Late Arrivals and Future Plans

I have been meaning to do a new arrivals post for a while. Having put it off for so long or not doing it regularly it now looks like I have an addiction and need an intervention.
So here is a quick photo that shows everything since August (I think). The only thing really missing from the photo are the two gravity feeds I bought for Dicemasters (one for Avengers vs X-Men, and one for Uncanny X-Men) and some individual boosters and cards that were also purchased for Dicemasters.

When I put everything together like this it looks a lot ( no really) and as I have admitted already some I haven't played at all yet, and are on the “pile of shame”. But they will be played. It's just Nath and I are working our way through the pile. You've seen the planned list of games we will be playing over Christmas in a previous post. Maybe I should expand my social circle and get some local friends to play with.
I will try and be more regular with the new arrivals posts, and write a bit about why I got them. I also want to add in those posts unboxing videos. This will sound bad I could do some unboxing videos for this stuff as I haven't opened them yet, but the reasons for that are too personal for on here. Close friends and family will know why.

Future plans

So as you can see I have a lot to play! And also to write about. However there are two expansions for Marvel Legendary in the postal system at the moment along with a Dicemasters super rare card and a Tokaido promo card. Plus I already have plans for January that include getting the last Marvel Legendary expansion that I need, getting the Harbour expansion for Machi Koro and the Crossroads expansion for Tokaido. New games! I'm trying to decide between Battlelore Second Edition, D-Day Dice and Pandemic the Cure. February (yes I've planned that far ahead) will see the expansions for Imperial Assualt. End of February, early March will see the arrival of Zombicide Season 3 from the kickstarter I backed. So March will see me getting Prison Outbreak, and the 2 dog expansions to complete the Zombicide set. Which means when Easter hits Nath and I will be playing a massive Zombicide campaign. At some point at the start of next year there is also the scum and villiany ships for X-Wing hitting and Star Wars Armada, along with more Dicemasters sets (there are a couple I'm not bothered about). Plus July time the reboot of the RPG Paranoia that I backed on Kickstarter is due out. 2015 is shaping up to be an awesome year gaming wise just on the expansions front, let alone any new games that get released.
Some of you may already of come across these already but from time to time there are videos of the Dicemasters games I play on Google Hangouts on Air going up on my YouTube channel. Next year I want to add to these videos with play throughs of some of the games I have. Whether they are solo play throughs of Marvel Legendary, Flash Point or one of the other games I can play solo to some of the games I play with Nath.
I also want to get out more to my local game store to play X-Wing, Imperial Assault, take part in more of the organised play. This year for same reasons above I've not been able to take part in some of the Dicemasters organised play that has happened the last couple of months.

Wrap Up

I know I've deviated a bit in this post, and not written about the new arrivals. But they will be looked at in more depth in separate posts about each of them. I'm hoping the future plans have been found interesting and maybe given you an idea or two for the next game or expansion to get. If you have any comments,suggestions, advice leave them in the comments below.

 

Pandemic Parties

Today I came across a story of board gamers playing a game to help raise funds to fight Ebola. What game are they playing? Pandemic of course.

Pandemic is a collaborative boardgame where you work together to stop the spread of four deadly diseases around the world. It was created by Matt Leacock who also happens to be one of the folks behind this idea of playing the game to raise $100,000 to go to Doctors Without Borders and their fight against Ebola.

So Matt is asking people to hold Pandemic Parties, where people come together to play Pandemic the game (or any game) and donate money to fight Ebola.

When I heard about this I thought wow! This is amazing. It’s such a great idea, and a perfect match between the issue and the game. This isn’t the first charity gaming event by a long shot. And they aren’t asking people to do like marathon events. To me they are asking for something more akin to a MacMillan Cancer Support coffee morning. Come together, play a game or two of Pandemic, enjoy a coffee (or other beverage), have a good time, donate money, leave with a warm fuzzy feeling.

The great thing I think about holding a Pandemic Party is that you can theme it a lot. Petrie dishes to hold the virus counters (I know some folks already use this for the game), players could wear surgical masks and rubber gloves while playing, you could get some injection pens (pens that look like injection needles) and have them stored in a test tube holder and give them to participants.

The nice thing is Pandemic is one of my pile of shame games. So this will be a great excuse to play the game. I’m not sure when the deadline is for doing this, I know nothing will happen this side of Christmas but I will look at organising something for January.

Hopefully after you have looked at the links below you will also feel like holding a Pandemic Party. I do hope so.

You can find out more about holding a Pandemic Party by visiting the official web site .

You can read the original story I read here it also has video to.

And if you want to find out more about the game and see what it is like to play there is the rather excellent episode of Wil Wheatons tabletop.

 

You can get Pandemic from your friendly local gamestore, or online from the likes of Amazon. There is also Pandemic the Cure that is a dice based version of the game.

My Webcam SetUp

I play Marvel DiceMasters, I love the game. I love the theme (Marvel superheroes!), the collectable aspect, the rolling of dice, the tactics/team building, basically everything about it. It's as if they specifically targeted the game at me (although FFG seem to have done that also with the X-Wing miniatures game too, am I that easy to hook in?)

Now my local gamestore (The Rift) runs organised play ( competitions with prizes) and has a few players there. However being 26 miles away not always the easiest most convient to get to or stay long enough to play lots of games ( parking also costs in Peterborough – or as I call it a shopping tax to push shoppers to out of town stores).

So what is so marvelous about DiceMasters is that it works so well as an online game using a webcam! So I now play regular games online with folks in the US and England ( I know there are one or two down under who are interested in playing but not played them yet).

Those playing use a variety of setups, using inbuilt webcams, mobiles/tablets, external webcams. Every now and then we get asked about what setups we use, and software. So I thought I'd write this post to answer that question from my side.

As the photo above shows my setup is the following:

Hardware

Software

The desk lamp gives me that nice overhead shot without getting in the way of playing. Basically when I got the lamp I stripped it down to what you see in the photo. Removed the shade and power cable, they aren't needed. I used the hitech solution of elastic bands to hold the webcam in place.

However the image from the camera is up side down and flipped. So that people can see the play area as I see it, ie it looks correct I needed to mirror and rotate the image from the webcam. Sadly the Logitech driver software doesn't allow you to do this. Luckily I found a solution in an app called iglasses. It's an amazing little app, which allows me to flip and mirror the image, zoom, set focus, even add filters. It's not free, but not that expensive and works great.

We use Google Hangouts to play the games. So people need a Google+ account to play. Nice thing is about Google Hangouts there can be multiple people on the hangout. But from time to time we use the on air side which broadcasts the session live, and then saves it on YouTube. So it allows us to put games up for others to watch at their own leisure.

When using Google Hangouts with this setup, instead of accessing the webcam directly you tell it to use the iglasses app as the webcam. Which then means you are getting the correct image being used in the hangout.

I hope people find this post useful in setting up their own webcam and join us soon in an online game of DiceMasters. There is a really friendly community of online gamers got DiceMasters and new comers are always welcome.

Epilogue

My next steps with this setup is to get picture in picture working using the built in webcam, and to make use of lower thirds. The lower thirds is apparently easy to do using hangouts. So will probably be the first to be done.

 

iOS Boardgames

 

I think it's obvious from my more recent posts I kind of enjoy playing the odd board game or two. However not as often as I'd like.

So I find myself playing some of my game collection as solo games (yes some games can be played solo), or like Dice Masters online using a webcam (the subject of another post). Or I play the iOS version of a game which allows me to play against an AI controlled opponent(s) or remotely against other people. The apps also allow me to learn a game so when I see Nath I can teach him the game.

Over the last four years I've been playing Carcassonne against an opponent who most of the time wins, but the odd time I get a victory. The Carcassonne app is a really great version of the tile laying classic. It really does a great job of capturing the original, great interface. I never play its solo modes, I just play remotely against friends. I love it, it scratches my itch to play this great game. It has my favourite expansions too for the game (traders and builders, inns and cathedrals, the princess and the dragon, and the river) that cost extra but totally worth having.

Against the same opponent I have been playing Lost Cities. This is the iOS version of the classic two player card game. Another great interface, love that it keeps stats of games played against an opponent. I'm also doing much better in the wins at this game, having won 56% of the games played.

One of the best games released this year is the two player card game Star Realms. The iOS app does not disappoint. I'm playing a lot of this at the moment. I haven't played it online yet, but the AI opponent is challenging, and I love the campaign mode.

Another classic board game is Ticket to Ride. And this has been captured wonderfully in this app. A great interface again. I've not played this online against people yet, but I believe it also hooks into other versions of the game on different platforms. I enjoy playing this a lot. There are a few expansions to buy for the game, I've only bought the Europe one so far.

The classic Settlers of Catan has been captured really well in the iOS app. I've not beat the AI opponents yet. But I think that's down to the fact I'm not that skilled at the game yet. I was disappointed with the online play of this game because unless you are online at same time you can't play. Ideally it needs to allow me to send an invite and allow the games to be more remote turn based like Carcassonne and Lost Cities. This too has expansions to buy.

Small World 2 I like, the interface works well, but I've not played much of it. It does capture the board game well.

What can I say about Alhambra? I love the game. However the iOS version although it has challenging AI opponents the game for me is hampered by a poor interface. I really want to like the app, but the whole experience is ruined by the interface.

The collaborative board game Forbidden Island I just haven't played after an initial look. It's local play and if I need to be in a room with people I might as well get the actual board game out to play.

I'll write about Space Hulk some other time. I've only just got it.

You would think being able to play games remotely it would be easier to play games with friends. However all of these games cost money, anything from a couple of pounds upwards. So even though the prices are a lot cheaper than buying a copy of the board game, still this is a hurdle for most that stops them getting the game. So a good challenging AI opponent is important to me. Most of the games allow you to select the level of opponent you play against, which I like. It allows you to start off easy as you learn the game and tactics, then up the difficulty when you are more confident.

I think from the brief bits above its obvious which games are my favourites and that I play regularly. If there is interest I'll post more in depth looks at them.

 

Father and Son Games This Christmas

Below you will find a list of the games I will be playing with Nath this Christmas when we spend some quality father and son time together over the holiday period.

I'd been after Space Hulk for a couple of years. It's a game I played once or twice while I was studying in Brighton many many moons ago. Which I had fond memories of, and now I wanted to play with Nath. Space Hulk is basically aliens the boardgame but set in the warhammer universe with space marines and gene stealers (the aliens). Nath would love playing this. Sadly the game was out of print and going for rediculous prices on eBay. But fate stepped in or more to the point Games Workshop did by doing a one off limited run of the game a couple of months back. Luckily I was able to get a copy at a lot more affordable price than the eBay ones from my local game store The Rift in Peterborough.
One of the hot games of this year, and rightly so. A japanese city building card game, which is great fun to play. Not sure how Nath will get on with this one, I think once he gets the idea he'll like it. I love the game.
We have played this once not long after I first got the game. Several ships later, and hopefully a star field playing mat arriving in time, Nath and I will be recreating skirmishes between the Empire and the Rebellion.
Marvel Legendary I'd been thinking about getting this for awhile. Researching it over the Summer. Then I saw the planned list of games for season three of Table Top. Marvel Legendary was on that list. If I didn't buy it soon, there would be little chance of getting it once the episode aired with it in. So I picked up this collaborative deck building game based on the Marvel universe. Since getting it I have got the Dark City expansion, and waiting on a couple of others to arrive. Nath will enjoy this I think. Nice thing is this has solo play rules, so once again I can learn the game before we play. Which always makes teaching Nath easier.
Staying with the collaborative deck building based on the same system as Marvel Legendary, is the game Legendary Encounters Alien. I think this is going to be Uber fun playing the movie scenarios with characters from the movie. But more importantly we will answer the question Wolverine vs Alien. Yes the games are interchangeable, so you can bet we will be dropping Wolverine into the Alien universe. It kind of reminds me of the crossover comics Dark Horse did in the late 80's early 90's where the alien/predators took on the likes of Batman and Superman. Ripley and Wolverine taking on the ultimate predator!
 

Another deck building card game, definitely one of the contenders for game of the year. This two player sci fi space battle themed game is great fun. I've been playing the iOS version to learn the rules so I can teach it to Nath. With a second deck it's possible to have more than two players. However this a quickish game to play, quick setup, and a blast. It lives up to the hype. I'm hoping Nath likes this one.

If this game wasn't one of the hot games of this year it will be now after being on TableTop. It started off the new season as the game played in the first episode. Not sure about how Nath will get on with this game. I won't explain the game here, go watch the episode of Table Top it does a far better job than I could. It's been hard finding an english version that is affordable. Amazon are selling a French edition! The U.S. editions on eBay are working out over £60. Well I suppose that's due to the Table Top effect. Luckily a Belguim company had an English language version at a much more reasonable price, and it will cross fingers be here before Christmas.

Finally coming out the week before Christmas Star Wars Imperial Assault. Descent the game set in the Star Wars universe. Another one of the hot games of this year and next (considering the time it's coming out). Nath and I will be playing this in skirmish mode if just the two of us. It's Star Wars of course Nath and I will love it.

So there you have it the list of games Nath and I will be playing this Christmas. I know considering how big a Zombicide fan I am, and Nath enjoys playing the game, why isn't that going? Well I do have a collection of games I've bought to play with Nath, a lot we haven't even gotten round to playing. So we have to make our way through those at some point too. My next Zombicide session with Nath will most likely be when season three comes out (I backed it on Kickstarter – so touch wood will get it in March). No DiceMasters either this time despite it being the game I'm playing the most at the moment. Well that's the plan but I may give in to temptation and include it.

I'm looking forward to my visit with Nath. Gaming whether cardboard or video gives me some quality time with my son. How we will squeeze everything in I don't know. We will give it a heroic effort to do so. But as long as we are having fun who cares if we don't play everything?

I hope the above list has given you some ideas of games to consider. I can assure you these are way way more fun than the “mainstream” stalwarts like monopoly and cluedo (to shame a couple).

 

New Tabletop arrivals

The last month has seen some tabletop arrivals and I thought I just do a “quick” post to tell you about what has come in, with more in depth looks later on (possibly).

First arrival is The expansion Toxic City Mall for one of my favourite tabletops Zombicide. Decided to go for this over Prison Outbreak because … well you will have to wait and read why.

Next in was Box of Zombies – Set #1: Walk of the Dead an expansion for the game Zombicide. So at the basic level this is me just buying some more walkers and fatties to use in the game putting off that moment when you run out of zombies and and have to give all the zombies on the board an extra activation phase because you can't spawn any more zombies! But when I look at this in more depth I'll cover the main reason I bought this expansion.

Continuing with Zombicide Expansions I also got the Zombicide Compendium #1, a collection in one place of sceneries and campaigns for season 1 of Zombicide (that's the original game). Bought mainly for the designer notes in it. But that's for a later post on another blog.

I ended up with these Munchkin Boxes of Holding unexpectedly because the retailer I ordered the Zombicide compendium from on Amazon screwed up my order and sent me these instead that were meant to have been sent to a person in Paris! So I can only assume my order went to Paris. I do hope they enjoyed the compendium. Anyway I got a refund and they never asked for these to be sent back despite me asking them to send a prepaid envelope to send them back in.

To celebrate I think 35 years since the original release of the game Ogre, Steve Jackson games have reprinted that edition and released it at its original price! So had to get just for that reason alone let alone I'm interested in trying the game anyway before buying one of the bigger editions.

Managed to get one of the current hot games to play the collectable Marvel Dice Masters Avengers vs X-Men, plus some of the boosters for it and an official play mat. This game is ridiculously cheap to get into, and the boosters are mega cheap.

Ok this was an impulse buy while purchasing the last item on this list. My latest addition to my Imperial fleet for the X-Wing Miniatures game a Lambda class shuttle. It's beautiful.

Finally out today a game I've been after for ages (it is out of print) that I wasn't expecting to be able to buy, and a total surprise that I have, but Games Workshop have just done a limited run reprinting (which sold out on the official GW website within a couple of days – eBay the game it goes for silly money hence why I hadn't bought it). Anyway my friendly local game store The Rift in Peterborough (great store – the owner Trevor is a really great guy, very friendly and helpful) got some in, and I was able to get my mitts on a copy. Oh the game? Space Hulk.

 

 

Zombicide: Special Guest – Kevin Walker

So the day started off with me thinking I'll find out if my local (local as Peterborough gets) game store The Rift have the Marvel Avengers vs. X-Men starter pack or the boosters. Well they didn't have the starter pack but they did have the boosters (at a very reasonable £1 a pack) so a quick visit to snap some up was made. However when their I did manage to resist buying Battlelore (that's next months treat) but caved in buying a Zombicide expansion. Guillotine Games and Cool Mini or Not have produced a series of special guest designed survivors. The pack they had at The Rift was the Kevin Walker designed ones. I didn't know who Kevin Walker was but I had been eyeing up this set because I wanted the clown survivor (star of the packaging). Having seen the artwork on the official website I have kind of been reminded of the movie Killer Clowns from Outspace in the 80's, and thought how cool would that be to play as a killer clown slaughtering zombies?

So on top of the boosters I was after this Zombicide expansion was in my basket and leaving the shop with me (paid for naturally).

Ok as the photo shows you get a survivor sculpt for each of the two characters, and a zombivor sculpt for each character, 2 character experience trackers, and 2 survivor identity cards in English (and another 4 that have been translated into 2 different languages).

Below a close up of the sculpts that you get. Top is Uncle honk and bottom is Mitch.

But there was one thing I noticed when I saw Uncle Honk sideways on. From the front he looks mean and tough standing there holding his machete. From the side however it kind of looks a bit rude. All of a sudden we get to see a perverted side of the clown.

Other than the rather amazing clown stiffy! The sculpts for this special guest set are upto the usual high standard from Guillotine Games/Cool Mini or Not. Below I have included photos of the survivor identity cards so you can see what the special skills are that each survivor starts with and then can choose from as they level up.

The experience trackers in this guest set are slightly different to the ones I got with Zombicide Season 1 since then they have added a rather nice little skull to them!

So who is Kevin Walker? According to the blurb on the back of the box he has worked on 2000 A.D., done stuff for Games Workshop, Magic the Gathering, worked at Marvel and DC. So a quick look at Wikipedia and I'm ashamed I didn't recognise the name. Kevin has worked on some of my favourite comic book characters like Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, ABC Warriors, Hellblazer to name a few. Plus he worked on Marvel Zombies – which is a pretty cool zombie version of the Marvel universe.

Overall I like this expansion, it adds to the survivors you can choose from to make up your team of survivors. The quality of everything is up to the same high standards that you would expect from Guillotine Games/Cool Mini or Not. I like the change to the experience tracker, a nice little tough. It's not a must have expansion. But one of the things I do like a lot from Guillotine Games/Cool Mini or Not is that they do keep introducing new survivors. It allows for variety in building teams, and a bit of fun.

This kind of wraps up my initial impressions of this Zombicide Special Guest expansion.

 

Up and Coming Tabletops I’m Excited About

Ok just a brief (ish) post on some up and coming tabletops that I am looking forward to coming out. I've seen reviews over on sites like The Dice Tower or Watch It Played and these ones below have got me really excited about getting them to play.

First up is Machi Koro published in the West by IDW Games. A Japanese card game that just looks great fun to play. Apparently due out in September in the UK. Here is the Watch It Played Preview video then watch the two part let's play video they have just done. Even The Dice Towers Tom Vasel loves it. I think in the preview there is also mention of an expansion coming out also, not sure when that is going to be released.

Next up is Tiny Epic Kingdoms which was on kickstarter (which I missed). When I saw this reviewed by Tom Vasel I thought “Wow, that looks fun.” Sadly not found a place to buy it in the UK yet, not even sure if it is possible to buy in the US yet.

Now we get onto X-Wing Miniatures, within the next couple of months we hopefully should be seeing Wave 5 and the Rebel Aces hitting these shores. They were apparently on sale at the recent GenCon in the US.

Briefly while talking of GenCon Fantasy Flight Games announced Wave 6 of X-Wing Miniatures that introduces a new faction to the game called Scum and Villainy which has a Most Wanted expansion (think new factions version of Aces) and some ships. They also announced Star Wars: Imperial Assault which has been described Star Wars Descent. Which seems pretty accurate. Then finally just before GenCon FFG announced Star Wars: Armada basically the big ship epic space battle version of X-Wing. I believe this lot will be hitting in the first quarter of 2015. So a little way off, so I got time to save up for them. You can read all about the new faction and Wave 6, Armada and Imperial Assault on the FFG website.

One game that is out now to buy and I have added to the top of my wish list is Ca$h 'n Guns Second Edition. Once again Tom Vasel seems to like it (watch his review here). It looks a lot of fun.

So there you have it these are the games and expansions coming out that are floating my boat at the moment. What games and expansions are you looking forward to?

UPDATE: So having written this post earlier in the day, I get home watch a new Dice Tower review by Tom Vasel and think bugger I have to add this to the post. I love Zombicide by Guillotine Games and distributed by Cool Mini Or Not. Cool Mini Or Not do have a great product range, and now are also home of the game I want to add to this list Arcadia Quest. This looks like a really cool competitive dungeon skirmish game! Sadly the kickstarter finished yonks ago so unless I feel really desperate all the nice kickstarter exclusives will elude me, as I won't give in and buy at an inflated price on ebay.

 

Introducing TableTops

IMG_2399In the Hello World post I did say that this blog would not just be outdoors stuff but also a home for other bits too. This is going to be one of the posts that fits in to that category.

Since moving back to my home town I have got back into playing tabletop games. Tabletop games are for the casual reader board games. You know Monopoly, Cluedo, Risk etc. The games we all played when we were kids. However stray from the “traditional” games we grew up with and a whole new world opens up. Welcome to the world of miniatures, euro games, war games, role playing, casual games, collaborative games, the list of styles etc goes on. The tabletop world is so much richer now when I was growing up. And truth be told the games are far more fun.

I don't play in a local gaming group (I should try and find one), although I have been once to a X-Wing Miniatures thing that runs on a Thursday at The Rift in Peterborough (really need to get back there to play some more). So normally I buy games like a collector! But not really as I buy games that meet certain criteria.

Ideally the game should be:

  • playable solo – being able to play a game solo is a big advantage, it means I can play it at home, get to know the rules before playing with others.
  • be playable by 2 players – some games although they say 2 players or more really aren't 2 player games. So games that are equally enjoyable as 2 player games as multiplayer are important. Why? Well when I visit Nathan I take a selection of games with me for us to play as father and son. So the 2 player experience is very important for me.

So what sort of games do I like? To answer this I think it will be easier to list my collection of games. Some I have played and some I haven't. The ones I haven't got round to playing I will eventually it's just they are on the list of ones to play with Nathan when I visit him.

  • Carcassonne
  • Zombicide
  • Dead of Winter
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Lost Cities
  • Munchkin
  • Fluxx
  • Love Letter
  • Shoot Out
  • X-Wing Miniatures
  • Red Devils
  • Memoire 44
  • Battle Cry
  • Castle Ravenloft
  • Resistance
  • Betrayal at the house on the hill
  • Small World
  • Zombie Dice
  • Munchkin Quest
  • Flash Point: Fire Rescue
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Alhambra
  • Takenoko
  • Boss Monster
  • Space Hulk: Death Angel
  • Pandemic
  • Forbidden Island
  • Tsuro

And I have some expansions for some of the above too. The current games I am really big on at the moment are Zombicide and X-Wing Miniatures. And over on the Manic Coding blog I will probably do a post about Zombicide and using it to teach game design at some point. Also at some point I will do a post that lists whats on my wish list of games to get.

As I said above where I talk about a criteria for choosing a game, I play them with Nathan when I visit him. Normally when I visit take a selection games we have already played (that I know he enjoyed) and also some “new” ones that we haven't played. It is then up to Nathan to choose what he feels like playing. For me all the games are good, and made extra special by playing them with Nathan. Quality father and son time.

Some of the games I bought are also collaborative games. I usually take those games into work to use in induction week with new students to act as kind of ice breaker. I think they make a great change from the usual “build a bridge out of paper” type exercises.

So there you have it my tabletop “hello world” post, I hope you have enjoyed it.

 

Smelling the flowers – a trip to the Lakes

Tuesday – Arrival

Finally the day had arrived. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while, it’s been long overdue. Since Bud died the enjoyment has not been there for me in walking. It was only made worse when Barney died the following year. I’ve still walked Strider, and a year ago we had a new recruit to the wolf pack called Nico (a two year old attack chihuahua). But the enjoyment just hasn’t been there. I used the excuse that work made it hard for me to get away, or I didn’t have the money. In truth the desire wasn’t there. I miss those two loyal canine companions.
Strider is a great dog, I love him to bits. But he is a keep himself to himself type of dog, unless some-one has my attention then he wants to know me. However Nico is not like that. He’s a very here I am, in your face, snuggle monster. Nico hasn’t just been great for Nan, he’s been great for me too. I don’t think my rekindled desire to get out and Nico joining us is no coincidence, I think he’s been a big part in bringing it back. Surprising since he’s such a little fella.
Anyway with rucksack packed, a tank of petrol, I picked Alan up from Peterborough train station and we headed up North towards the Lake District. The weather was hot, which made travelling in my car an endurance test. Basically the heating sensor has gone (and it’s not easy to get to), meaning even with no heating switched on, my car gets hot inside. Very embarrassing, and I’m sure not a pleasurable experience for Alan. I cannot apologise enough to Alan for putting him through this form of torture.
The journey up was fairly uneventful, except for a one traffic jam due to an accident (which wasn’t really an event). Alan and I finally rolled into the Wasdale National Trust Campsite after seven. We booked in, found a pitch and made camp.

When I produced two budweisers for us to drink I think Alan was delighted and surprised. But they did go down well. As did the small bottle of red wine we had afterwards with tea.

Wednesday – An Unexpected Crossing

It rained heavily during the night and the early morning. And breakfast time was punctuated with rain. After a brief discussion about the predicted weather for the day we decided to have a camp day and walk into Wasdale Head.
Above photos from Church of St Olaf at Wasdale Head
Below the “wildlife” of Wasdale Head
Below The Crossing. The sign for the path Wasdale Head end warned that the path was liable to flooding. What it didn’t warn of was having to do two river crossings! The first one was easy to cross using some light footed ness over large rocks in the flowing water. The second crossing was a bit more substantial to cross, as the photo below shows. Only logical choice was to take socks and shoes off and paddle across. I went first, the water although cold was rather refreshing and nice. Luckily the stone river bed was flat large-ish stones, and not slippery so easy to walk across. Somehow on Alan’s crossing he managed to find all the pointy stones!

Back at camp the rest of the afternoon was taken up with some serious hardcore chilling. How did we know it was hardcore? It involved snoozing in the afternoon sun that’s how.

Thursday – Into The Wilds

After breakfast we broke camp, and headed off into the hills. It was going to be a hot day. Oh yeah I hope you remember I don’t do heat. So not my ideal weather conditions.
Plans change, and ours changed once or twice on the way up. I have to say the part of the Lakes we were in although we saw others was no way as busy as some of the more popular spots. Which is a shame because where we were had a very alpine feel to it. I have to admit I think some folks would be surprised at the amount of wild life this high up. We saw apart from the usual suspects of sheep, dragon flies, herons, fish, buzzards and butterflies.
The afternoon was spent once more doing some hardcore chilling out. Today’s wine was provided by Alan and was a rather nice red from M&S. The evening was spent hiding from midges because the evening time seemed to be the cue for any breeze at all to disappear. Luckily I bought a new midge net hat from the camp site shop. Even luckier for Alan he had an inner for his Trailstar. There were also mozzies and my BMC/Harvey map is now stained in mozzie blood and innards as I used it to kill them in the Trailstar.

Observation of the trip: Yewbarrow from where we were looked like a sleeping dog. I agree with that observation of Alan’s. Somehow it was like Bud and Barney were keeping watch over our camp.

Friday – Back Home

I wake early and if I was alone would of broke camp and made my way before most have stirred in their tents. But when you walk with others you have to make adjustments. So wrapped in my quilt I sat on a rock contemplating life, the universe and everything, whilst watching the morning sun come up.
I’m not a breakfast person, I like to be up a little while before having breakfast. And if I had broken camp an hour or so down the trail I would of taken a break and had breakfast with a brew.
Once Alan was up and about we broke camp and made our way back down to the camp site. At the camp site we cleaned up using the facilities, had a brew (benefit of keeping stove, pot etc in a handy side pocket), and then set off on our journey South.

Our journey back was a lot longer than the one up. Well it did involve stopping off to visit a friend of Alan’s where we had an amazing lunch and great conversation. But then going round Leeds we hit the storm battering the UK, and traffic was often at a stand still while it negotiated the flooded roads. Once back on the A1 it was not much better, the rain making driving conditions nigh on impossible. Eventually we made it to Peterborough for me to drop off Alan at the train station to continue his journey to his hidden location somewhere in the Home Counties.

I don’t think I’ve chilled out this much in a long long time. I’ve really needed this I think. It has been good for my soul. So much has happened in the last couple of months. My friend and boss (same person) died unexpectedly. Ontop of that work has been uber stressful as well. I had an earlier trip in the year before all the recent happenings and between the two I really am blessed with the friends I have, and the support they give me.