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It's been a while since I posted and the weather seems to be much more autumny. I'm now back at work and I've got an interview next week for which I need to prepare a ten minute presentation.

Over the last few weeks I've read a couple of books.
  • Storm House by Mark Hibbett - This started strongly, but I was less impressed by the end. It was interesting and imaginative, but he was a little too inclined to pack everyone he'd ever mentioned together with a series of coincidences and then was running several different concepts at once. It was fast paced and I greatly preferred it to books where little happens, but it could have done with a bit of editing and polish.
  • Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies by J K Rowling - This was as expected; nice, comfortable, short backgroundy pieces from the Potter world.

We've seen three films, and the last is our last Lovefilms one as the service is shutting down (the like of Netflix means the demand isn't there any more).
  • X-Men Apocalypse. - This was one of those films where you know roughly what you're getting. Overal it was fine, but sadly, more interested in back-stories than adding any depth the villain of the piece.
  • Deadpool - Sarcastic, fun and a bit grim in places. Ryan Reynolds is good in the title role and the fourth wall breaking is good.
  • Jason Bourne - I'm not sure that the plot hung together, but it's a solid and undemanding action piece.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Awesome CGI and decent casting, particularly Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston and Ezra Miller. Gently watchable.

I've also been playing Steamworld Heist and Secret World Legends, but neither is finished yet.
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There were also owls at Center Parc. These weren't quite as exciting as the falconry (and was for age 3+ rather than 12+), but they were still pretty excellent. Again the twins came along, as did my mother-in-law Jo.

There were fewer owls, but here is one with Ryan.

And then round to Bea.

This is a different owl sitting on me.

And finally a baby owl.

The last was a big hit with all the smaller children.
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I've come home from a few days holiday with Dom's family at Center Parcs. There were many great things about it, but my absolute favourite was the Falconry. I took Bea and Ryan along and Bea said I spent the whole time smiling happily.

It was about an hour long and started with two falcons being handed around.

Then we got to see the a small one fly from hand to hand. Here it is perched on me.

Then the facilitator brought out a larger one.

Finally a vulture! I couldn't photo it on me - it was too big and kept bashing me with its wings.

All-in-all an excellent hour and I want to do it again!
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At the moment I'm sort-of replaying games. Plus playing the on-line Final Fantasy (XIV) with ao_lai, chrisvenus and Alistair.

The first is Syberia II. I'm playing this because I've just finished replaying Syberia (I) and want to remind myself of the story before I play Syberia III. (III came out this year and I bought it in the summer sale).

Here's a rather unexciting screenshot - I'm only at the start of the game.

As for FFXIV, I'm pretty near the start for that. However, I won't be playing next week, so I'm doing some solo catch-up.

Here's a dubious mage I met on my travels.

There there's Secret World Legends; it's the relaunch of The Secret World. I'm playing the current event - The Whispering Tide. This involves killing the Bird of the Zero-Point Pathogen, aka Flappy.

That's been my week!
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Our Lovefilms offering at the start of August was Star Trek Beyond. This was rather more mainstream than our last two films (Moon and Tale of Tales) and fairly decent light entertainment. Also it had Idris Elba in it (although, for the most part, unrecognisable). However, it suffered from a lack of consistency and a lack of coherence. The more I thought about the plot, the more it failed to make sense.

Now on leave, I finished Dragon Age Origins again (on the PC for a change) and for the first time played The Darkspawn Chronicles. It's essentially a replay of the last battle as the bad guys (and with the PC absent). It was different, interesting and entertaining. I had a lot of fun working my way through the NPCs and name-checking them. Also, crucially, it was about the right length. Long enough to be enjoyed and not too long so that it didn't become boring.

In other news, Reeve is having a bad time of it. His beloved box has been replaced and the new one is narrower and, so far, has been spurned. Also, there's an omniously-named appointment for him tomorrow morning; Dom has put it in the calendar as "Thermometer Up Bum (Reeve)".
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Today I took Ryan to Kew. This was the counterpart of Wednesday's shopping trip.

We started with The Hive, although it was already quite busy.

From there we headed down to the Pavillion for cake (he had blueberry and lemon and I had banana and coconut).

Next was back to Palm House.

Then we went to the Treetop Walkway.

We also managed the Princess of Wales conservatory and Sackler Crossing. At some point we found this.

Then we headed home for a late, small lunch.
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Bea and I have a tradition. That at some point in the school summer holiday when I'm on leave, I take her out for cake, shopping and pizza. This year we went on Wednesday - which was rather rainy, but otherwise OK.

We started at St Pauls where I took her to a branch of Bea's of Bloomsbury, chosen for the name. Bea was delighted, the staff were friendly and the cake was good (I had the pistachio and chocolate cupcake and she had a nutella baked doughnut).

We then pottered around One New Change and bought a few bits and pieces (Bea got a necklace, a t-shirt and some footsies and I got some butterfly socks). From there we headed to Oxford Street which worked out better (Bea got a top and some leggings and I got a top). Finally we went to Pizza Express, as usual and got dough balls and pizza. I bought Bea an A4 notebook from Paperchase in Victoria Station and then we headed home.
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The legal part happened on Friday when I was in London. The large event was on the Saturday in a hall near Kew Gardens.

The afternoon started with the ceremony itself.

Then there was the cold buffet. Here's a picture of the bride and groom.

There was also wedding cake.

And finally music, dancing and chat.
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My last day at work, Friday of last week, was my colleague's celebration of her 50th birthday. Her desk was decorated for her in the morning. This isn't a brilliant picture, but she got flowers, confetti and a balloon (above the photo).

We went out for lunch to Bread Street Kitchen which is a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. The meal was rather good. We were all served freshly baked bread. Then I had pork and fennel sausages, borlotti bean casserole, 'nduja, salsa verde with a side order of truffled brie mashed potato. Picture below and thoroughly recommended.

For dessert I had Praline parfait with Kent cherries, chocolate hazelnut crumb which was also excellent, but I forgot to take a picture.
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I've bought Dragon Age Origins Ultimate Edition for the PC, as the Playstation is very popular in this house. I've been playing through as a rogue for the first time (and as an elf for the first time).

We've just killed Flemeth.

With luck I should finish it whilst I'm still on leave.
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Last week I went to see the Lunchbox Bridewell Theatre performance of Tales from the Trundle. It's described as:

"Telling of a mother's survival from abuse and addiction, battling the New York court system and divorce. This story is a journey into healing. Through laughter, tears, friendship, romance and sex, via Paris and Los Angeles, we are led to the ultimate destination of self-transformation and self-love."

Essentially it's a one-woman show with a music soundtrack (it isn't actually a musical, she doesn't sing). The actor and writer, Francesca Van Horne, plays all the characters in the show from the central character of the trapped wife along with her husband, best friend, gym teacher and everyone else she meets. It's funny and ends well.
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Hopefully this will survive on my leg for this afternoon. I decided to mix the glitters more as this worked well for Bea.

It's Elle and Andy's wedding celebration and I hope to get a set of decent photos.
lathany: (Default)
We watched Tale of Tales on Friday. It consisted of three separate fairy tales being told about three royal families. There was little overlap between them, but they were all in the same style. It was rather weird and the characters were all difficult to empathise with as all seemed very selfish and uncaring about others (or more than one other person). On the plus side it was at least very different from everything else I've seen recently.

Alistair finally ran a session of Glimmer Scuffles (Star Wars) on Sunday after a seven month break.
  • We finally caught up with the datacron that would clear our names,
  • saw the moment believed to be the creation of the Sith,
  • spoke with the thousand year Emperor,
  • discovered we all had force potential now, and
  • started preparing for a planetary war.

I tried another Glitter Tattoo on Thursday, this was a flock of birds.

It really wasn't very durable and lasted less than 24 hours. I don't yet know if it's because I put them on poorly, or if it's the small details that disappear quickest.
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Having finally reached a quieter point in my year, I headed over to The Bridewell Theatre for a "lunchbox" performance yesterday. This is a 45 minute show running 1pm to 1:45pm.

This was, in fact, two plays:
  • EVERY TWENTY MINUTES by Tennessee Williams - Despite the name, this is a ten minute play. It's a scene between a husband and wife, on return from an evening out. The wife comments that she's seen in the paper that someone in the US kills themself every twenty minutes. He husband is very unconcerned by this and she is not. There's not really any plot, just some dialogue. I mostly got to the end and thought Is that it?.
  • SEAGULLS by Caryl Churchill - This was the other thirty-five minutes. It had a three person cast - a celebrity (Valerie), her manager (Di) and a fan (Cliff). Valerie's celebrity status comes from being a telekinetic. However, this scene is about her being unable to show her power. Also, despite the sci-fi angle, it really seemed to be about the short-term nature of stardom.
Overall, I was glad to get out and see both plays; although I think they are my least favourite thing so far from Lunchbox.
lathany: (Default)
It has been a rather quiet few weeks. We've seen a couple of films, roleplayed once and celebrated our twenty-second wedding anniversary.

The anniversary meal was at home with the duo. We have savory tarts to start (crab meat, goats cheese and sausage), prawns for the main course and chocolate pots to finish. All with a rather good white wine.

The films were:
  • Rogue One (Star Wars) - I thought this was really good. Sad, of course, but well plotted and acted. I could have done with fewer call-backs to the first film as some felt a bit forced, but otherwise it was good.
  • Moon - This was a Christmas present from Martin that I finally got around to watching. It's an sci-fi/mystery film with a small cast. It's interesting and enjoyable. There's a couple of bits that are slightly shaky, but overall decent.

Finally was the 100 Secrets game, featuring the time-loop temples. This was weird, even by 100 Secrets standards. The idea was that we were sent to find and, if possible, save the survivors of a previous expedition to a temple in the south. The Queen told us she wasn't sure what the temple contained. We now have some idea. The nomads who live in the area have a better idea and it is notable that this includes staying away from the temples. Plus the Ryne family is involved. Turns out that the temples do time-loops. Also multiple bodies - we spent much of the session with two Aeryns. There's a big political battle going on over whether to take word back to the Queen. And that was happening even before we arrived. The next session is going to be both weird and political.
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Having finished the main work on my report, I decided to celebrate with another go at a glitter tattoo.

I quite like this one, but don't think silver is a great choice for a pale skin. Or, at least, not unless it's surrounded with other glitter.

The other thing we finished this weekend was season one of Jessica Jones. It's another Marvel Universe production and it is quite well done. Both Krysten Ritter (as the title character) and David Tennant as her adversary are excellent. However, there's a really unlikely coincidence in there and the sex depicted in the first few episodes seems rather endless and unrealistic. Overall though, recommended.
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Last week I couldn't hear for six days. Slightly unfortunately, this coincided with a visit to what is probably my favourite restaurant - Trinity. Although, fortunately it didn't stop me from going.

For once, we weren't having a tasting menu with matching wines, but an Indian meal (from visiting chef Arun Mathur from Delhi) with matching beers (from Wild Beer Co). It was rather good.

On arrival we were offered drinks and went for gin and tonics although, sadly I didn't take a note of the gin (although [personal profile] bateleur might remember).

A Selection of Indian Pickles and Papad and Sleeping Lemons beer - This particular course was already on the table and was essentially the equivalent of poppadoms and chutneys - a good quality version though. The beer was good, I was slightly reminded of some of the Badger beers.

This arrived in two sets of two and was served with POGO (Passion Fruit; Orange; Guava Pale ale). Again, the beer was light and fruity (it appeared as a can!), I thought it was good.

Smoked Butter Milk with Cumin - A little pot to drink from. Weird, smoky (as you might expect from the name) and tasty.
Hand Pulled Chicken Tikka Chaat - Tasty, a recognisable chicken starter.
Tandoori Fruit Salad - This arrived as a kebab. It really was tandoori fruit and it worked, although I admired it rather than really liking it.
Green Cardamom and Cheese Chicken Morsels - I think I liked this the best of the starter. The cheese bits were like little crutons.

Main course
It took them a while to get all of this lined up to serve it together. We could see the preparation area and it was fascinating - and mouthwatering - to watch them carefully prepare portions for 32. This course was served with Evolver (Brett IPA) and it went well.

Coconut Prawn Curry - My favourite and as you might expect, king prawns in a lovely coconut sauce.
Bhuna Gosht, Braised Lamb in Tomato, Onion and Ginger - I liked this more than Dom did. Possibly because I was lucky and had better pieces of meat.
Chickpea Flour Dumpling in Yoghurt Curry - Dom found these disappointingly dull. I thought they were OK, but not the highlight.
Smoked Aubergine Cooked with Onion, Tomato, Chilli and Ginger - A little on the hot side, but pleasant enough.
Fried Onion and Cumin Rice - This was rice, it worked, I used it to mop up the sauces.

The final course, served with Gazillionaire, a salted caramel chocolate milk stout with the addition of vanilla and cardamom. The stout was not as sweet as I hoped and slightly more interesting to read about than to drink.

Saffron Phirni, Rice Pudding with Green Cardamom and Saffron - This arrived cold, set in little pots. It was very tasty and, as ever with desserts, was a favourite for me. It didn't quite beat the prawns though.
lathany: (Default)
Another go with the glitter tattoo kit - this one looks better. I wonder if it'll last longer than the butterflies did?

I may have ten colours but I still want more.
lathany: (Peacock)
Earlier this month I booked my August annual leave with my line manager. As I did so, I realised I wanted some leave soon, preferably as soon as possible. So I booked last Tuesday. [ profile] bateleur and I used it as an opportunity to go to Kew outside of term time.

We were lucky with the weather. It was warm and sunny, but not too hot and not too crowded. We had cake. I chose Chocolate and Beetroot and he had the Red Velvet cake. We also wandered around very happily.

We also got around to watching the second - and final - season of The Booth At The End last week. Five episodes of twenty-three minutes (I didn't time them, I looked it up). It was still very good, and started to explore the Man and his background although it still continued with the format of the first season where people come to see him in a diner. No more though. [ profile] bateleur thought it was right to stop before they had to answer the mysteries. I'm not so sure.
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Last Saturday, in 100 Secrets we waged war on the Half Lords. We teamed up with the Count of Narthal and his consort Tabitha after discovering we had a common enemy. We divided into three teams - the Count and consort (Team A), the usual duo of Lady Rose (Andie) and Loy (Sarah) (Team B), plus the Tiger God (Krys) and the non-combatants - Neddra (myself) and Carlos (Jon) (Team C). We headed up the staircase and began. We managed to take out five Half Lords:
  • Team A think they killed one. Probably. We think there was fire magic involved.
  • One was assassinated by Team B through a combination of displacement and stabbiness.
  • Team C took one out, despite its Shadow Knight entourage, through wind magic, rearranging the walls and general clawing.
  • Team C took another one out despite the pitch darkness and the knight through more clawing.
  • The last, the leader, was taken out mainly by Rose with a bit of consort and Tiger God assistance.
We celebrated. We also learned what we could from their library of portals about the Midnight Roads (and hopefully, in future, of runes).

Afterwards we went back to Sarenland and discovered that the Half Lord allies had fled other than Owlsroost. He was ill and, despite an attempt to save him, he died. Whether he might have become another Cloam, we do not know. Aeryn took a message to Ein in Aeros to inform her. Also, we discovered the portal to a lonely hut and captured the Half-Knight there. It seems to be the end of the Half Lords plot.

On the trains, I read Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper. This is a tale of the European colonisation of Massachusetts from the Indians' point of view. Unfortunately, whilst well-written, there isn't really anything else going on. I feel I want to repeat my comments about Bujold's book of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen - the author could have written a story using the colonisation as a background. She didn't and I'm disappointed.

Dom and I watched Phoenix on Friday night, our latest Lovefilms offering. It's a German film set at the end of World War II about a cabaret singer who has survived the concentration camps, but her face has been ruined and she requires reconstruction surgery. She stands to inherit the family's wealth as all the others were killed. It is fairly short (about an hour and a half), but tells the simple - but very watchable - story in that time. Gently recommended.


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