Well, that’s two interesting months out of the way. We’re finally over COVID, though Yasmin still hasn’t got a full sense of smell back, but I’m sure it won’t be for much longer now.
WordPress has been doing my head in. It no longer supports Safari, which is the worlds second most commonly used browser, and it’s causing me all sorts of issues such. I edit my photos on the Mac, as most are taken on my iPhone and compatibility is easier, but WordPress wont open a post preview anymore, which means I have to check everything on the laptop before I put it live. That’s only one issue, there are plenty more. It’s also not overly compatible with Edge and this causes me different issues, so I end up bouncing between the Mac and laptop just to put out one simple post. I’ve taken it up with them, but they just say I need to install Chrome, which I refuse to do. I like using what I use, and I refuse to be forced into putting something on my computer I don’t like or want. Anyway, rant over!
Due to one thing or another, we’ve hardly played any games over the period, but I do have plenty of other things to talk about. So, without further ado…
Way back in 2004, Sue and I visited the Peak District, staying in a lovely hotel called Losehill House. We enjoyed it so much we stayed there again the following year. It had been newly refurbished in 2003 and was all shiny and new, and full of charm. To celebrate a significant birthday, I booked for us to go again this year, last week in fact. A few weeks earlier and we’d have still been in isolation, so we were lucky there.
The hotel changed hands in 2007 and had upgraded the restaurant to fine dining. As we were booked in for dinner over our few days stay, we were excited to try the food, even Yasmin, who’s very picky, was keen to give it a go.
For a 4-star hotel we were a bit disappointed. We had a family suite, which contained 2-bedrooms, a bathroom, and a sitting room. Everything looked tired and jaded, there was mould around the shower cubicle, as well as some of the windows, and cobwebs hung from the ceiling. The rooms really needed sprucing up, bringing up to the standard they once were.
The communal rooms all looked spick and span. The dining area had been relocated to the orangery, with the lounge moving into its space. This made sense in terms of flow of guests, but in doing so they’d ripped out the charm of the place, including the old fireplace, though admittedly, doing so enabled better use of the kitchen area.
The food was a tossup between amazingly good and extremely poor. The first night’s evening meal was superb, especially the desserts (I wish I’d taken pictures). They also went out of their way to cater for Yasmin, preparing her dishes not on the menu, and all was well, very well!
Breakfast wasn’t so good. I always judge a breakfast as to whether it’s at least as good as what I can do at home, and this one wasn’t even close. There was the usual choice of cereals and toast, fruit, yogurt, pastries, and a cooked menu. Yasmin asked for fruit but without the accompanying yogurt and received a large bowl containing lots of different fruits, and we eyed it enviously. We had toast and the Derbyshire breakfast, basically a full English. What a disappointment. The one sausage was spicy, and whilst I don’t mind spicy food, it isn’t something I like for breakfast. The one piece of bacon was so overcooked it was like plastic and taking a knife to it resorted in the need for eye protection. Sue got off better than I, as she opted for a fried egg, whereas I went for scrambled. Again, this was overcooked, dry, and bland. I think it had been prepared earlier and left under a heat lamp. The best things on the plate were the one small mushroom and half a tomato!
That evening’s meal was good, but had issues, namely over-seasoning. It was interesting, as Sue had the pork dish for her main, which I’d had the day before, but it was presented differently and was very salty, leading me to think there was a different chef in the kitchen that evening. All our starters and mains were far too salty, even Yasmin’s salad, which was a great shame as the food itself was very well cooked and presented. At least the desserts were matched up and were the star of the show.
Our next, and last breakfast finished our stay off on a low point. Yasmin once again ordered the fruit, but this time a large bowl appeared with about six small pieces of fruit in it, mostly grapefruit. We avoided anything cooked and just asked for toast, granary and white. We only got white, and strangely, each slice was burnt at one end and barely cooked at the other. Even I can do toast!
Still, we had an absolutely wonderful time. The hotel is situated in a superb, countryside spot, with walks in every direction. As we were only there for two nights we didn’t explore far, as we’d booked to visit somewhere else that we’d last visited 17 years ago, Chatsworth House.
Chatsworth House is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and the area has been their seat since the 1940’s, with the house completed in 1708 (with later additions). The gardens are extensive, with a certain, Lancelot “Capability” Brown being responsible for much of the landscaping, way back in the mid-18th Century.
We were rather fortunate with our visit. We’d booked an early time to look around the house and so missed the crowds that appeared later. Not only that, but they were getting it ready for Christmas and there were many beautifully decorated trees knocking about the place. The house is awesome, my kind of place, so full of history. It’s been very well looked after and every room has grand decor and yet, unlike some we’ve seen, it fits the place like a glove, not overpowering the senses with gaudy styling.
The gardens were equally impressive, and we spent a good 3 or 4 hours walking around. There’re the famous water features of the Cascade, which was built in 1696, and the Emperor Fountain, which shot water 90m into the air, a record at the time (built 1843). The fountain rarely operates to full pressure now, due to the limited water supply, but is still an impressive sight.
There’s a maze, which was a massive child attractor, kitchen gardens, a trout stream, various ponds, a lot of incredibly old trees, and, best of all, lots of secrets to find just by wandering around.
It isn’t a cheap place to visit, but I would say it’s worth every penny, especially if you have the weather, which we were fortunate with, to be able to wander around the gardens at leisure.
Well, I have to say, there isn’t a lot to talk about in this section, pretty poor from a gamers Blog point of view. I don’t know why, really. I guess it was back to school for Yasmin, then COVID, and generally lots of life things to do. We managed a couple of games of Unmatched, though, enough for me to think about writing a review, and I’ve given Under Falling Skies a good seeing to, so good that I have written one and just need to take the pictures; that should be up soon, so I won’t bore you with the details here.
We, have, however, played a decent amount on the PlayStation. We completed Borderlands and have just started on the follow up, creatively called Borderlands 2. We’re not much of a team for most part, as Yasmin has a habit of charging in and taking everyone on whilst I’m looking the other way. She’s easy to follow though, as she leaves piles of empty crates wherever she goes – I never get a look in! When it does get difficult, we do pull together and work a strategy out, and actually, we’re finding the Bosses easier than some of lead up stuff.
There’s been much more action on the painting front than the gaming, so at least I have something to talk about here.
Starting with Marvel: Crisis Protocol and Daredevil. He didn’t quite turn out how I wanted, a little darker and not as ‘clean’ as I’d hoped. Some of this was down to using new paints and I’ll explain further in the upcoming post, but Yasmin is happy with him and as he’s her character that’s what counts.
Ghost Rider was a joy to paint, surprising me really. I hadn’t been looking forward to him, what with all that black and fire, but once I got going it came together and he ended up looking just how I imagined. Again, it’s another post waiting in the wings.
I’ve just started Bullseye, not an inspiring figure by any means. It’s a boring sculp and combined with his 2-tone look, he’s going to be dull to paint. Looking through comic images, he appears depicted either in a black or a blue-black costume, both with white trim. I’ve elected to go for the latter, and after priming him black have airbrushed a Zenithal layer of Imperial blue. I need to start on the white next and then highlight him up.
Moving onto Mansions of Madness and I decided to prime up a load of figures all in one go. These included the Deep Ones, Warlocks, Thralls, and all the figures that make up the Riots.
The Deep Ones I knocked off over Halloween, as it seemed appropriate and kept me away from trick or treaters. They need varnishing now before transferring to clear bases. I’ll probably do the Warlocks next, but I tend to go with whatever I fancy at the time.
My Davco 1/3000 ships are progressing. I tend to spray a bulk lot of them in base colours – deck, superstructure, and hull – and then go through touching them up and adding the steel decks when I can. This usually happens when I’m short on time and don’t want to get into painting anything more detailed.
I’ve now got enough ships painted up to play a few scenarios, unfortunately, I need the table in the garage to do so. I’m in the process of stripping and sanding a door in there and room is a bit limited, so it will have to wait for now.
Finally, we got to watch Black Widow on Disney+ and I’m real glad we didn’t pay for it. It isn’t a bad movie; it just didn’t live up to expectation. The story is limp, as is some of the acting, and not a lot seemed to happen in the 2hrs 13minutes we sat through. We both turned to each other at the end with a ‘Is that it?’ look on our face.
I’ve never been a fan of Ray Winston and he lived up to my expectations here, playing his character in the same manner he has done with every other part he’s played, but this time with a dodgy accent.
There was a lot of it that felt forced, the story, the acting, and the action scenes in particular; it was disappointing after having to wait so long for the next MCU offering.
I’m still working my way through the Walking Dead – now midway through season 6 and loving every moment. Just when I think it’s going to start going stale and repetitive, they add a twist to things and draw me right back in. Whilst there have been a few weaker seasons, so far, I think that 5 and 6 have been two of the best. I just wish I could get through more than a couple of episodes a week.
As a family, we watched the second season of All Creatures Great and Small. I remember watching the original version, way back in the 70’s and 80’s, and they’ve done a great job capturing the feel of it. It has humour and drama but manages to stay clear of political and environmental messages that Doctor Who fell afoul of. It’s good, all-round, family entertainment, the like of which we haven’t seen in a long time. Roll on season 3!
Shetland has made a return for season 6, with episode 3 airing this week. We have the first 5 seasons on DVD, so were pleased to see a new one hit the screen. The plot is always quite complicated, but they dangle a lot of the evidence out in front of you, enabling you to jump to many conclusions as things progress. It can often seem confusing, but usually, in the last episode, it all comes together and makes total sense.
Douglas Henshall plays Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez superbly, but I feel things are let down by Steven Robertson’s portrayal of Sandy, one of the detectives – he often has a wooden look on his face that’s somewhere between, ‘I haven’t got a clue what’s going on,’ and ‘I really need the loo!’ Still, it’s the only thing that lets this otherwise superb crime drama down.
Between the Sheets
I haven’t finished a single book in the last two months, I have, however, started three!
Okay, it isn’t quite what it seems. No, I haven’t started reading some right humdingers, just give me a moment to explain.
I bought three companion books for Call of Cthulhu, all in PDF form, and I’ve been working my way through them as I need to. I got them to help me with the scenario I’ve been writing for the game, and yes, it must have taken me about 6-months so far!
I’ve had a lot of problems writing for this game. I have no issues when it’s a Fantasy setting, but CoC has proved to be a lot more difficult. Partly, it’s my unfamiliarity with both the setting and the game system, though I’m working hard on set that right. But it’s also the fact that it’s a ‘real world’ setting. The places I’m going with it are real, such as New Orleans, and again, my unfamiliarity with 1930’s American history means I’ve had to put a lot of research in that I wouldn’t normally have to do with Fantasy setting.
The books I got were Lovecraft’s Arkham, Miskatonic University, and Secrets of New Orleans. There’s a lot of information to take in here and I can see me taking another few months to put the finishing touches to my scenario. The good thing, though, is that I’ve been using the info to flesh out my campaign overall, so I’ve made advances there. I’m hoping we can play ‘Blood for Blood’ (Scenario’s working title) over Christmas. It’s quite an involving scenario, which will see Yasmin’s character test her investigative skill, as she’ll be aiding the police to try and solve a series of strange murders, where the victims have all been drained of blood – and before you jump to conclusions, it isn’t what you might first think.
I’m quite excited about what I’ve put together, with my biggest concern being the balance for a single investigator. I’m hoping to do a post highlighting the scenario and also revealing my main plot for the campaign, that way anyone who’s interested and will have some idea of what’s going on when I write up our next playthrough.
Anyway, that’s about it for this Geek. Next one will be after Christmas and will hopefully contain a bit more on the gaming front, fingers crossed. Till then, keep safe and thanks for reading…