2017-09-16 07:40 am

What a week

 Work has just been manic this week.  However, I do feel I finally have a grip on the monster project portfolio spreadsheet.  I also know that I have to find a better way of managing it.  Logic says 'database' but whenever I go near Access I lose the will to live and think 'but SharePoint is a database and is easier to use'.  But presenting project timelines in SharePoint isn't as visually appealing as Excel.  No idea what it would look like as a report in Access - I've never got that far.  I have found a really nice on-line tool called Teamwork but that costs money.  I have looked at other on-line tools but none of them work as well for what I want.

And so I go around the loop again.  And I keep telling myself, I work in a department full of IT professionals - surely SOMEONE can help?  But I also know they're all super busy and building me a tool for managing the project portfolio isn't going to be anyone's priority except mine.  But it would make my life sooo much easier...

Anyway, my line manager and I met with one of the other managers to talk about resourcing and recognised the fact that you really need to wipe out August and September in terms of getting anything done; August because people are on leave and September because they're catching up with themselves after being on leave - and with other people who've been on leave.

I helped out with the scoring of applications for the new PM post - just 'person spec says we want A - do they have A'.  What a collection!  We had over 50 applications, which is almost unheard of.  No idea how we managed that because we've been struggling to recruit for any post recently.  Anyway, the shortlisters got the list down to 11, which will have to come down a bit further but they're leaving that to the boss.  One candidate looked absolutely terrifying to me, at least on paper - I'm not often intimidated but that person definitely intimidated me; talk about a high flyer!




On a lighter note, the husband's poncho is done and I've made a start on my lacy scarf.  It's too early to tell how it's going to look, though.

And I've arrived in Ariel's world in KH.  The Riku/Maleficent thing is giving me flashbacks to FF8, although I think it's better thought through.  But after all, what part of FF8 WAS thought through?

I only have one disc left of DS9.  Not sure how many episodes are left, but they have got so many story threads to tie off.  I'm not sure I like the whole Prophets v Pah Wraiths thing.  And I really don't like the Federation withholding the cure - feels like the creators of the series are struggling to like the organisation they've helped create.  But Julian has finally found love, so that's something!

Well, I need to get up and get this day started.  Bye for now, DW!
2017-09-11 07:36 am

Progress is being made!

 First of all, a moment to remember that it is 9/11.  There is a talk at my church tonight about the life of Father Mychal Judge who was chaplain to the New York Fire Department and was killed at the Twin Towers.  It's one of those moments where everyone knows where they were when it happened.  I was at work and we ended up gathered around someone's transistor radio because the computer network had crashed due to the best part of 20,000 staff and students all trying to access it at the same time.

And now, to more trivial matters!

KH and I have clicked.  I can't pinpoint the moment when it happened but I can pinpoint the moment when I realised it had happened.  I was walking through the Dalmatian House looking at the cute cartoon puppies in the cute cartoon house and realised that I wanted to play more of this game, if only to rescue more cute cartoon puppies.  I am currently in the Dark Cavern outside Agrabad(sp?) trying to find Jafar and Jasmine.  Having to go around the city twenty times because everything was blocked off was annoying but I am getting better at jumping on things rather than off them.  A little...

I've also met Merlin and I gritted my teeth and agreed to help Pooh.  I have an abiding hatred of Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh, because I have such a deep-seated love for the original.  But it's still Pooh and he still needs my help.

Progress is also being made on the husband's poncho.  The back is done and half of the front.  I'm hoping to finish it in the next couple of days and then I can get going on my fancy scarf.

And my new morning routine has yielded words - not only here but also for the Write Practice.  Go me!
2017-09-09 07:25 am

A week?

 So, my new morning routine leaves very little in the way of time for updating journals.  I'm getting in 20 minutes of meditation/contemplative prayer and 15 minutes of writing practice - as well as the essentials of washing, dressing, eating and spending time with the husband.  So far, I'm not sure I'm getting much from it.  The idea of the contemplative prayer is to bring you more in touch with God - but I feel I'm in constant contact already.  Also, meditation is supposed to calm the mind and, amongst other things, help with concentration - neither of which are really a problem for me.

I know - lucky me!  I know this stuff is a struggle for other people but it isn't for me.  I think devoting more time to writing, especially as I have Ideas for DOAICS, may be more productive.  I can practice my concentration by not getting distracted by the internet!  I do want to keep going with the Writing Practice exercises, though.  Doing the Lectio Divina in the evenings is also proving interesting.

I haven't played any KH for a couple of nights.  Watched telly (Who do you think you are and DS9) on Thursday and sat up with the husband going down memory lane last night.  The plan is to get out of the jungle at some point today, though.

I've also picked up knitting again.  I've found a gorgeous pattern for a lacy scarf that I want to make for my mother's birthday - but it's a bit involved in places, so I'm going to make myself one to practice!  And I'm making the husband a kind of poncho/cape type thing to keep his shoulders warm and, hopefully, help with the arthritis.  I find knitting very relaxing.

In work news, it was a long and busy week but productive.  There's a thing that I've been acting as PM on for over a year that usually feels like herding cats whilst wading through treacle - but this week (Thursday afternoon in particular) suddenly leapt forward.  Of course, it's all on hold for the next 4-6 weeks because the people who are going to do the training aspect, AND the people who are going to be trained, are all heading for their busiest time of the year - but progress has definitely been made.  It is a very nice feeling.

The grandson started his new school on Wednesday.  The daughter posted a picture of him looking suitably small in his slightly too large uniform.  Bless.  We shall get all the goss when they arrive in a couple of hours.

OK, I'm going to watch a bit of Persona 1, then get this day underway.
2017-09-03 07:46 am

Saturday fun

 Took the grandson to get his hair cut ready for school on Wednesday.  Where did the holidays go?  Not that they affect us much but I'm still feeling a flutter of getting-ready-for-school butterflies.

I played a bit more of KH.  I've finished beating up helpless barrels in the Coliseum and moved on to Tarzan's jungle.  I'm trying to swing across some vines and, mostly, failing.  Why did nobody ever tell me this was basically a platformer?  I don't do platformers and this game is all the reasons why.  Jump from one ledge to another - oh, you were slightly off on that one, try again.  Ooops, not quite!  I know it LOOKS as though you need to be at that angle but actually you need to be at a slightly different one.  OK, you did the ledges - now you have to time your jumps between moving objects.  Oh, but now you have to turn around slightly...   Urrrggghhh!!!  The whole thing is an exercise in frustration with no warm fuzzy sense of achievement if I DO actually complete the stupid hopping about correctly AND without really enjoying the rest of the game because I'm still figuring it all out.

I did, however, return to Wonderland and Traverse Town to do some money (sorry - munny) farming.  And I'm getting better at the space ship game, so there's that.

We've also made the decision to watch this series of X Factor.  I gave up about 2/3 of the way through last year because Honey G (a white female rapper who can't rap) kept getting through.  I'm not a fan of rap myself but I can appreciate talent; rapping is a skill and, if it's well done, I can enjoy it at that level.  Honey G raps as well as I do.  I can also appreciate that rap music is important to a lot of people, Honey G included.  I am not even going to judge the fact that she comes from a comfortable, white middle class background, so what the fuck relevance rap music has to her life I don't know.  I love Johnny Cash's version of 'Hurt' and I've never self-harmed in my life.  And I seem to have a thing for drug-related songs (Bridge Over Troubled Water, Ride a White Swan, There She Goes) but have never done drugs.

Anyway, we're telling ourselves, 'maybe this year will be OK'.  Yeah, maybe...

And that was Saturday.  Bye for now, DW!
2017-09-01 10:57 pm

Middle-of-the-road edgy people

 On the face of it, most of the people at my church have it pretty much together.  We're largely white, straight, middle class professionals.  Typical church folk.  But all of us have some experience of living at the edge, of not quite fitting the white, straight, middle class professional Christian mould.  We are a gathered community, formed around an ideal - that everyone is just a person and that every person is loved by God, equally, unconditionally and passionately.  Anyone is welcome and we are welcoming to everyone.  Newbies often say that that's a reason they come back - because of the loving welcome they received the first time they came.

We look like your typical white, straight, middle class professional Christians but we aren't.  We come to church because we are aware of our brokenness, not because we smugly believe we are 'holy' or 'chosen'.  God doesn't choose who to love.  God is love.  And we are trying to live that out in a small way.

I have been heard to joke that St Bride's is a church formed in my image, and when people say the lovely things they say about the place I hear my ideal self reflected back to me and I am humbled.

Of course, I am only just coming to terms with what 'every person is loved by God, equally, unconditionally and passionately' actually means.  It means Donald Trump is loved by God as much as I am, and that I am loved as much as Theresa May.  All the people whose lives are fuelled by hate and fear are loved as much as those who are driven by love and acceptance.  If everyone could see that, understand that, live as if that were true (and I don't claim to have arrived at that point myself!), how would things be?

Yes, I'm a dreamer.  But I'm not the only one.
2017-09-01 07:30 am

Change is good

 Had my first 'proper' meeting with the new rector yesterday and gave her a potted history of my 'spiritual journey'.  And realised afterwards that I'd left out some pretty major chunks - but she said she expects to be around for at least the next 10 years so there should be an opportunity to fill in the gaps!

I have also just realised that I've done absolutely nothing to prepare for Monday's Core Community meeting - that's my job this lunch time!

I ran into my first OMG boss the other night on KH - something with very long pink legs that kept hitting me but I didn't make much of a dent in.  Goofy REALLY hurt him but then got knocked out.  I do like that KO'd characters can come back without a Phoenix Down!  Yay, something I like about this game!!!

Still looking forward to getting to Primal!

Last night, I watched Who Do You Think You Are with Noel Clarke (I know him best from Doctor Who) and then watched an old Doctor Who story and one of the special features - and didn't go to bed until 11.30pm!  Given that I'm normally asleep by 10.30pm this was definitely staying up late!

I'm thinking that I might end up buying the DVDs for Peter Davidson and Sylvester McCoy's doctors on ebay and selling them on when I've watched them.  Unless Netflix does have them hidden away somewhere.  We shall see.  But LoveFilm are trying to help - my package allows me to have two discs at home and they're sending out three or four at a time to get me through as many as possible before the service ends.

I've been watching a 'let's play' of Persona 1 on YouTube.  The player annoys me a bit, not least because he leaves in ALL the battles and ALL his shopping decisions but I'm finding the story interesting.

Well, time to get on with the day!
2017-08-30 07:28 am

What a difference an hour makes

 So, three hours into FH1.5 and... I'm not 'in love' but I'm definitely looking forward to playing more.  I've arrived at Wonderland (after two attempts at the flying/shooting mini game - why did nobody tell me about that particular irritation?) and am looking for evidence of Alice's innocence.  I now have side-kicks but I have no idea what they actually do because I'm so focussed on hitting Heartless with my keyblade.  I have abilities but don't know how to use them (I suspect they're in the left-hand menu, which I have so far largely ignored).  Squall - sorry, Leon - beat me up so much that I had to grab a potion.

I also got so lost in the 'build a space ship tutorial' that I had to stop the game and restart it because I couldn't find another way out.  I don't think I'll be investigating that again any time soon.

For the record, I want to state that I have been a gamer for over 20 years and am reasonably competent at life in general.  But new battle/ability/menu systems take my brain some time to adjust to.

That's my excuse, anyway, and I'm sticking to it!

Anyway, the point of this post was to say that I am going to continue playing KH1.5.
2017-08-28 07:12 am

KH1.5 - first thoughts

 I played just under two hours of KH1.5 last night and... it's about what I expected.  I'm not loving it but I'm not hating it.  Donald has made me smile a few times.  I did get frustrated with the hunt for provisions, with myself and with the game.  SOME clue about the location of coconuts would have been nice - although I was quite pleased with myself that I worked it out.  And after I'd got it all together, we didn't even use the bloody raft!  So, yeah - a classic FF-style fetch-quest that actually serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

Rosa is not amused.

And why is the second bloke called Riku?!  And what happened to Wakka's voice?!  And the little black goblin things are annoying.  And I keep getting thrown by the fact that the sound effects remind me of FFX but the fight music reminds me of FFXV.  And the colours are too bright.

And I'm actually struggling to find something I actually like about it...  Oh, I have it on 'beginner' level, so the fights aren't a challenge.  Ummm...

I will keep going and see if it grows on me but, at the moment, I'm feeling a bit like I did with Dragon Age - I'm playing this on a friend's recommendation not my own inclination and my first thought (that this isn't 'really' my kind of game) is right.
2017-08-27 07:26 am

Some video game thoughts

*WARNING - FFXII:ZA SPOILERS AHEAD...  WARNING - FFXII:ZA SPOILERS AHEAD...  WARNING - FFXII:ZA SPOILERS AHEAD... *

Yeah - I'm too lazy to do the cut thingy.  Sorry...

Vayne is gone!  He was more of a challenge than I remember but I think I was ridiculously over-levelled last time I played.

I read a theory piece that said that Vayne is the real 'goody' of FFXII because he wants to take responsibility for history away from the Gods, but Ashe and co are following the Gods'/Occurias' wishes making them the 'baddies'.  But a) Ashe does make the decision to destroy the Sun Cryst (albeit late in the day - and she leaves the actual job to Reddas), and b) Venat is BAD - she tortures Vayne when she turns him into the The Undying, and has been corrupting both Vayne and Cid for years.  I agree that Vayne is committed to a noble cause but he's a bit like Seifer - he's backing the wrong side.

I sat through the credits because I thought there might be a little snippet of something at the end but there isn't - except for New Game+ and lots of nice concept art.  I was particularly struck by the picture of Cid holding baby Balthier.  The actual final bit of the game comes before the credits when the camera pans out to show Rabanastre in the middle of the desert.  Whoever developed that game is DEFINITELY a fan of Azure Dreams.  That person (or those people) also must also have worked on that tower-thing on the FFX/FFX-2 remaster.

A couple of things I really liked - Vaan's expression when he said, 'Larsa would definitely have said that' and the dialogue between Balthier and Fran when he picks her up - FRAN: I'd say you have more of a supporting role; BALTHIER: Fran, please.  Because, of course, he's the leading man!

But I digress.  I have completed the story element of FFXII:ZA and I love it more than ever.  I thank everyone at Square Enix who made it possible.

I have also found a couple of games that are coming out next year that look interesting.  Biomutant and Lost Sphear  They are now on my 'maybe' list behind Horizon: Zero Dawn.

Time to get this day underway"
2017-08-26 07:29 am

Now i remember why I hate shoe-shopping

 So, yesterday the daughter and I took the grandson shoe-shopping for school shoes.  Town was heaving (of course) but the shoe shops were all pretty quiet.  We had a list of criteria, some from the school, some from us.  The shoes couldn't be 'trainer type' (which crosses off at least 50% of those available - and ALL the ones he liked), or have coloured labels (goodbye Kickers), I don't like kids in slip ons (cross off about 10% of what's left), or anything too 'posh' (he's going to school not a wedding - lose at least another 20%) and I thought he should wear lace-ups rather than velcros (lose about 30%).  So, yeah, not much left.  Added to which, his trainers are a size 3 but all the size 3 school shoes fell off him - he has his mother's narrow feet.  Shoes below a size 3 tend to be velcros because they're for younger children.  Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth from all three of us!

But we did manage to find a pair that met the criteria, that fitted and, most importantly, that he liked.  And they were a lot cheaper than I was expecting.  The daughter thought they wouldn't last long but I think there's a good chance his feet will grow soon anyway, so I'm happy to get another pair in the New Year.

I invested in some toothy tabs from Lush as an alternative to toothpaste in a plastic tube.  They seem OK, so far.  If they work out, I'm also going to get the mouthwash.

Today, I plan to hoover the upstairs and clean the bathroom and toilet.  And wash my clothes.  The grass is also getting VERY long - tomorrow's job, I think, if it stays dry.

Every time I sing 'Ordinary World' I get an urge to write a song fic.  I suppose I haven't said I'll NEVER write another but I am trying to focus on original stuff.  But the line 'what would you wish if you saw a shooting star' is just MADE for Rinoa...

And I am about to head into the final battle of FFXII:ZA.
2017-08-24 07:49 am

Well, thank goodness THAT's over

 Had a horrible meeting in work, yesterday.  I have a colleague - let's call him Alan - who is REALLY lovely person.  On a personal level, I could spend all day with him.  But in meetings...  So, we're working on this thing where he's due to give some training on a particular system to a team who don't currently use it.  Before he gives the training, he wants to know what their process is.  So, I ask the team for their process and they send through some information.  I make sure Alan has this information and ask him, 'is this what you need?'.  Deafening silence, which I take for assent.  Yes, I know - one should NEVER assume.  Especially when it comes to Alan.  BTW - this all happened about 3 weeks ago.  Now, the last three weeks have been a busy time for Alan and his gang, but how hard is it to answer a straightforward question with 'yay' or 'nay'?  So, at the meeting yesterday, Alan says, 'no, that wasn't what I needed'.

A word about my mood at that point.  I was too hot, which always makes me a little cranky, I'm mid-period (after missing one - did anyone say menopause?), and another part of the meeting had irritated me slightly.  And now I have Alan saying he still doesn't understand the process despite all I've been able to do but in a time and place where I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!!

Added to this, Alan is well known for this kind of behaviour but nobody has yet worked out a way to deal with it.  Well, next time I send him an email containing information and with a direct 'is this what you need?', I am going to follow it up by going to speak to him, now that we're in the same building and all.  I am then going to follow up the face-to-face with an email (because I am damned well going to have EVERYTHING in writing) summing up what we've just agreed.  THEN, if he goes running to our boss (because he also known for 'telling teacher' when things don't go his way), I have an audit trail.  I think it may also be worth meeting with him, even briefly, before the meeting so that I know where his thinking is.

I don't think it's going to cure the behaviour but at least I have a chance of not being fucking AMBUSHED in a meeting and feeling like a complete idiot in front of my line manager and assorted others.

I do have to put in a word for another colleague - let's call him Dennis - who actually spoke up for one of my suggestions earlier in the meeting but who is generally on my 'arse' list.  Credit where it's due.

The new PM post has been advertised.  I am not going to apply because it's a LOT of work when I know that I won't get an interview.  There would be a point in terms of protest/flagging up my ambition - but my line manager is already well aware of how I'm feeling and is VERY supportive of helping me to move forward, so I don't feel the need there, either.

I also have to say that my gamer colleague is in a much worse position than I am and I just want to wave a magic wand and make it all right for him but I can't sort my own shit out so how am I going to sort his?  *breathe*

Anyway, I came home, finished a bottle of wine and watched 'Born on the Fourth of July'.  Geez, Tom Cruise can act.

I am now on leave for two days and then there's a Bank Holiday on Monday, so I don't have to think about work until Tuesday.  Yay!!!
2017-08-21 07:31 am

Getting stuff done

 I moved on a tiny bit with the story in FFXII:ZA (a thousand blessings on whoever wrote the guide book - navigating the Great Crystal was MUCH easier!), and now have Reddas in my party.  I am, therefore, knocking off some more hunts whilst I have the extra sword.  I've done the one in the Nabreaus Deadlands and the one in the Necrohol of Nabudis, which I think makes 31 all together.

I'm trying to rush my way through ST:DS9 series 7 because Lovefilm is being wound down by Amazon and they'll only be offering a streaming service from now on.  It looks as though, as well as paying for Amazon Prime (which I don't really want because I hardly ever order stuff from them) I'll have to pay to watch stuff I want to watch, like ST:Voyager.  Not happening.  I'm already paying for your service, thank you very much.  Time to investigate Netflix, I think - I shall ask J when we talk later.

Back at work for three days, then it's shoe-shopping with the grandson on Friday.  Yay...
2017-08-19 07:25 am

Fresh air and frolics

 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!
2017-08-16 07:14 am

Taking a break from... so many things...

 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!
2017-08-11 07:57 am
Entry tags:

Not a happy Rosa

 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!
2017-08-10 12:39 pm

Diary of a Welsh Adventure

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.

2017-08-06 06:56 am

It's almost here...

 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!
2017-08-04 07:20 am

Time to chill

 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!
2017-08-02 07:29 am

Resolution - of a sort

 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!
2017-08-01 07:26 am

And Vaan goes marching on!

 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.