3 little pigs – the first little pig poem

20 April 2015 Leave a comment

Three little pigsFor her homework my 6 y.o daughter had to write a poem about the first little pig and how he felt about his house and the big bad wolf.

What she came up with was very funny – see what you think!

——-

Ha ha ha I feel safe in my big strong house made of straw.
The big bad wolf is outside trying to get inside my door.

I can hear him huffing and puffing trying to blow down my house.
But I’m not worried as he’s no stronger than a mouse.

Hang on? What’s happening? My house is starting to fall down!
Oh no, it’s all gone wrong. I feel such a clown.
It’s all a bit scary Mary. My, that wolf is hairy..

I’ll end up as his dinner today.
Oh how I wish I’d built my house another way.

——-

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Categories: Poems

Games Workshop Warhammer Fest, Sat 11th and Sun 12th October 2014

30 November 2014 Leave a comment

Warhammer Fest official programme 2014Years ago when I was a teenager I used to love Warhammer. Like really, really love it.

It wasn’t collecting the figures or painting them that I was interested in. To be honest I was crap at painting and to buy all the proper paints, inks and brushes was too expensive.

Instead I loved the whole Tolkienesque immersive world, the game design and the intricate thinking behind the rules. There were all the many species that fought against each other, each with it’s own army book describing history, special characters and special rules.

If you’re new to Warhammer, there’s basically two main time periods that the game is based around:

  • Firstly Warhammer Fantasy is in a mediaeval setting. You get the Empire (Men), who live in a Germanic styled realm along with all the classic Tolkienesque races such as Elves, Dwarves, Orcs plus there’s the Undead, Skaven, Ogres, Chaos and much more. Their world is a kind of mock Earth but of course has Magic permeating throughout it which makes things far more interesting (the 8 colours of magic and the differences between them is very imaginative).
  • Whereas Warhammer 40,000 (or 40K) is set far in the future and is purely sci-fi. The main warriors of men are the Space Marines who fight alongside the Eldar (science fiction Elves) against Chaos and other dark creatures such as the Tyranids.

Warhammer Fest

I’ve recently taken an interest in the whole genre again. Partially from an interest in how Games Workshop are managing everything nowadays and also because it’s nice to revisit stuff!

I saw tickets for Warhammer Fest going for £20 and as the Ricoh Arena is not far away I thought ‘sod it I’ll go’. And by myself too. Get away from it all for the day. I’m not sure anyone else would be as sad as me and join me anyway!

Ricoh Arena

Getting to the Ricoh is easy – just off Jnc 3 of the M6.

Inside there was all sorts going on – galleries of paintings, loads of fantastically painted miniatures, massive dioramas (battle scenes), plus gaming tables where short battles were going on.

There were also seminars, book signings, painting tables where you could listen to painting audio guides and paint your own free figure and a massive shop.

There was also plenty of chance to meet and talk to all the many friendly staff. I even noticed Jervis Johnson there – a long standing and well known Games Workshop figurehead.

Galleries of paintings

There were some impressive paintings and prints on sale.

Tiled Mosaic Gallery of Undead Figures

The first thing I noticed about the modern figures is just how intricate they are. Some are really delicate looking.

The better production technologies have allowed the designers of the figures much more freedom. From speaking to staff there, everything nowadays is designed on computers.

Undead battle

I even took part in a short battle which lasted 20-30 mins, a short space of time which only allows for roughly 2 turns each.

This was between two undead characters, Nagash and Settra (for those who know what that means).

It was run by two Games Workshop guys who were very funny and great facilitators of the event.

Even though it was Nagash by himself vs everyone else, he still ended up defeating Settra easily through a one to one challenge.

Shop

The shop was in a larger hall on the ground floor and was very busy. Looking around at what’s on offer now it was great to see that the game is just as diverse as it was years ago when I knew it much better.

The figures and books are so expensive though. Which is a real shame. From comparing costs on eBay (always a good indicators of what people are willing to actually pay for stuff and so what their true worth is) some of the stuff on sale was indeed massively over priced.

For instance the Warhammer Army books, which I used to love collecting, are now only available in hard back and retail at £30! A quick look at eBay, the same new books are selling at roughly £20, with some ‘nearly new’ books as low as £5-£10.

Games Workshop are missing out on a trick there, especially as it’s just so easy to shop elsewhere online for products now. If they were to reduce their costs, I’m sure they’d find people would buy directly from them much more. Especially because they have that fanbase who love the game and the organisation.

Battlefield Diaramas

There were some great battlefield dioramas on display. All which you could reach out and easily touch (which I didn’t), though big signs everywhere told you not to. This showed a good amount of trust to all the attendees of the event, which I thought was good.

Painters

A digital artist there was creating an image with a stylus on a computer which was very good. He was demonstrating zooming in, editing the canvas and more. I think he was using Photoshop though I could be wrong.

The picture was brilliant with lots of details. He was obviously very talented.

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Categories: Games

Stone Age Acrostic Poem

23 November 2014 4 comments
Paul Jamin - Le Mammouth.jpg

Le Mammouth by Paul Jamin, 1885, from Wikipedia

For his homework this week my 7 y.o. son had to write a poem about the stone age.

After a bit of brain storming about which words he wanted to use and a little help putting it all together he came up with this fantastic acrostic poem.

I thought it was so good, I just had to blog about it!

As explained on readwritethink.org an acrostic poem “uses the letters in a word to begin each line of the poem. All lines of the poem relate to or describe the main topic word”.

Our word was HUNTER.

Hunting Wooly Mammoths to get our dinner.

Using flint spears and axes that we made.

Nearly getting whacked by big tusks as we kill our prey.

The fire cooks the delicious yummy meat.

Eating in our cave wrapped up snug in animal fur.

Recording our lives by painting on the cave walls.

Image on right – “Paul Jamin – Le Mammouth” by Paul JaminSalon de 1885. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Categories: Poems Tags: , , ,

The 5 best men’s fragrances – aftershaves, EDTs and colognes

6 November 2014 2 comments

Liking a great aftershave or cologne admittedly is a very subjective thing. My idea of a great scent is probably very different to yours.

We’d both explain what are our favourites and why. And after arguing as usual you’d probably be right. But it’s my blog so I’m going to give you my top 5 best fragrances for men anyway!

In true pop-picker style I’ll run down from #5 to #1. I’ve shown alongside what the smell is described as by the brand marketeers and other internet fragrance experts.

At any point while reading you’re quite welcome (and wouldn’t be alone either) to say ‘What the hell does Sandalwood, Bergamot or Patchouli smell like anyway?

Aftershave vs. cologne vs. eau de toilette vs. perfume

First a brief explanation as to what the difference is between an aftershave, cologne, eau de toilette and perfume.

Essentially it’s do do with the concentration of the natural essential oils / perfume oils within the product. The more oils in the product the stronger it is and the longer it will last. Stronger doesn’t necessarily mean better though – as anyone gassed out by a strong perfume can tell you!

  • Eau de Cologne. This tends to contain about 7% essence. It doesn’t last long, so can be frequently reapplied directly to the skin. It tends to be marketed in large sizes of up to 200 ml and is often applied by spray.
  • Eau de toilette or EDT. Eeau de toilette can contain up to around 10% aromatic essence. The top notes – the first scent released by a perfume – are dominant, making it refreshing when it is applied. It then evaporates and fades away quite quickly. Eau de toilette and cologne are the most popular forms in which fragrances are sold. Confusingly the lines get blurred so sometimes this term is used to describe the same concentration as there is in men’s cologne.
  • Eau de parfum. The concentration of oils is over 15%, sometimes reaching as high as 20%. It usually lasts well and is sold in small sizes. After the top notes have died away, the middle notes or heart notes of a perfume become noticeable. This is the focus of eau de parfum which makes it perfect to spray on hair or clothing.
  • Perfume. The average concentration of essence in a perfume is 25% (though some can be up to 40%!), which makes it the longest lasting of all the scent categories. Only a tiny amount is needed, which is reflected in the sizes in which it is sold. It can also be called perfume extract or extrait and is often the most expensive version of any fragrance.

This post on the Shaving Room has a great explanation and goes into much more detail as to the differences between everything. As does good old Wikipedia on it’s Perfume page.

Usually any product aimed at men is a ‘fragrance’ whilst for the ladies it’s a ‘perfume’.

Top notes, middle notes and base notes

Using a musical metaphor, perfume is described as having three sets of notes making the ‘harmonious scent accord’. The immediate impression of the scent is known as the top note which then leads to the middle notes. The base notes gradually appear after as the final stage. All are created carefully by experts, who often can have backgrounds in chemistry or even design.

  • Top notes or head notes. These are the scents that immediately hit the senses after application of a perfume. Top notes consist of small, light molecules that evaporate quickly. They form a person’s initial impression of a perfume and are therefore very important in selling a perfume.
  • Middle notes or heart notes. These emerge just after the top note and form the main body of a perfume. It acts to mask the often unpleasant initial impression of the base notes, which become more pleasant with time.
  • Base notes: The longer lasting scent of a perfume that appears after the middle notes.  They are usually not noticed until 30 minutes after application.The base and middle notes together are the main theme of a perfume and bring depth to the fragrance or perfume.

Manufacturers of perfumes usually publish perfume notes and typically present it as fragrance pyramid, with the components listed in imaginative and abstract terms. Much like the naff arty adverts that often go alongside trying to sell such fragrances or perfumes!

My top 5 list

Number #5

Calvin Klein Eternity for Men

Calvin Klein Eternity for MenThis scent reminds me so much of Ralph Lauren Polo Sport but it’s far more rounded. It has a great after-smell and lingers for ages which makes it very effective.

The perfume shop says “The fragrance is fresh with woody tones and is very much a men’s classic. The initial coolness to the fragrance comes from a fresh mix of green botanicals, with a hint of lavender and mandarin”.

Whereas Fragantica goes into a bit more history – “launched in 1990. The nose behind this fragrance is Carlos Benaim.

  • Top notes are lavender, mandarin orange, bergamot and lemon;
  • Middle notes are coriander, lily, orange blossom, juniper berries, basil, jasmine, sage, lily-of-the-valley and geranium;
  • Base notes are sandalwood, amber, musk, vetiver and brazilian rosewood”.

How anyone can smell anything individual with so may ingredients is beyond me!

Number #4

Georgio Armani – Acqua di Gio

Georgio Armani - Acqua di GioA number of different websites rank this as their number one and for good reason. It’s just such a good overall sweetly rounded scent. It’s also very cheap to buy too. This ensures it’s often in the top 5 best sellers. £30 for a 200ml bottle can at a push be found on eBay for example.

So what do the experts say it smells like?

Well Boots say “This aquatic, aromatic fragrance opens with a splash of fresh calabrian bergamot, neroli and green tangerine. Light, aquatic nuances mix with jasmine petal, crisp rock rose, rosemary, fruity persimmon and warm Indonesian patchouli to create a masculine scent that is both fresh and sensual. Natural and authentic, it is the perfect fragrance for gifting.”

Whereas Fragrance Direct say “Inspired by the freshness of the sea, Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio Men Eau de Toilette Spray is a soothing, aquatic scent that brings a sense of richness to any man. With notes of bergamot, jasmine, rose and ambe, Acqua Di Gio is an invigorating fragrance that lingers seductively on the skin. With a classic and sleek glass bottle, Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio is a perfect fragrance for the modern man.”

Number #3

Calvin Klein – Obsession For Men

Calvin Klein - Obsession For MenThis is a really strong powerful fragrance that lingers for ages. A great aftershave.

It’s also come right down in price for how good it is too. For example Amazon have a 125ml bottle on offer at only £23!

FragranceX comment that it is recommended for office wear, adding “Obsession is classified as a refreshing, oriental, woody fragrance. This masculine scent possesses a blend of lavender, mandarin, clove, nutmeg and amber.”

Fragrancenet.com say “A casual but distinctive daytime scent from the iconic Calvin Klein, Obsession cologne for men is a spicy, moderate fragrance that balances its citrus notes with musky undertones. First introduced by Calvin Klein in 1988, Obsession for men has a rich, appealing construction that combines dominant notes of spice and mandarin with low tones of musk, amber and sandalwood. This appealing and resonant fragrance is the perfect choice for a broad variety of daytime events.”

Number #2

Issey Miyake – L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme

Issey Miyake - L'Eau d'IsseyWow, what a scent! I really love this smell. Very unique and recognisable.

Created by Jacques Cavallier in 1994 this is a great EDT to own.

The perfume Shop says “Since 1994, L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme has become a hallmark of sophistication in the world of fragrances. It awakens the senses with its blend of citrus, precious woods and spices. The pure, energising scent is perfect for a modern, independent man.”

I especially like Fragantica’s explanation – “Issey Miyake uses very unusual and rare materials in order to create perfumes that evoke the sense of timeless freedom and serenity. L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme was created as a universal Eau de Toilette perfect for any occasion.

L’Eau d’Issey for Men is a woody aquatic fragrance with:

  • yuzu as in top notes, along with notes of bergamot, lemon and tarragon.
  • A middle note is spicy and woody: nutmeg and water lily are an exciting and unexpected accord in this composition.
  • An end note carries an intense woody scent which is sharp and enriched with tobacco,sandalwood, cedar, vetiver and musk.”

Number #1

Acqua di Parma Colonia Eau de Cologne

Acqua Di Parma Colonia Eau De CologneCreated in 1916 (1916!!) this is my fave cologne and one I’d always wear. According to Fragantica.com Colonia became a real symbol of Italian chic among American and European celebrities in the pre-war (1930’s) and post-war (1950’s) years. Cary Grant, David Niven, Ava Gadner and Audrey Hepburn were among the passionate admirers of Colonia.

It is in fact a unisex cologne and is possibly the greatest traditional eau de cologne available.

When you spray it on it has an initial invigorating, even cheerful burst of zesty freshness. Many other layers then reveal themselves afterwards to create an overall very elegant scent. Vintage even.

The great thing is as far as I know is it’s not especially well known either. So it’s quite unique to own and use.

I’d certainly recommend trying it if you can find it. The box and even the font on the bottle look timelessly cool too.

Here’s the blurb from the John Lewis website – “A unique and naturally fresh sensual scent that will linger for hours:

  • Top notes:Grapefruit, Mint, Blood mandarin
  • Heart notes:Rose absolute, Cinnamon, Spice
  • Base notes:Leather, Wood, Amber, Indian Patchouli”

House of Fraser says “Fresh, light and suitable for all seasons, Colonia is Acqua di Parma’s signature scent. An exquisite blend of Sicilian citrus fruit, English lavender, rosemary, verbena and deep sensual notes of sandalwood, cedar and mysore, Colonia is modern classic dedicated for both men and women.”

Acquadiparma.com says “A fresh, refined, and timeless fragrance for a pragmatic and successful man who loves tradition. A composition born from sunny Sicilian citrus fruits and the harmonious blend of floral essences such as lavender and damask rose that merge with woody notes of vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli in the base.”

Hint: Don’t get confused with the very similar ‘Colonia Assoluta’ which is slightly different.

Other colognes that I hear are great but haven’t had a chance to try yet

  • Bleu by Chanel
  • One Million by Paco Raban
  • Mont Blanc Legend for Him

Bleu de Chanel  One Million by Paco Raban  Mont Blanc Legend for Him

Ones I’ve tried and meh..

  • Man by Calvin Klein – underwhelming and a bit too bland in my view.
  • Uomo Ermenegildo Zegna cologne – smells almost identical to Man by Calvin Klein
  • Calvin Klein Contradiction Homme – OK but there’s better EDTs out there.
  • Liz Claiborne Lucky Number 6 Men – this isn’t actually too bad. The bottle is a naff design though and the top spray nozzle gets lost all too easily (as I found when I opened the box in my car once, only for the top to get lost down the side of the seat – doh!).
  • Chrome Cologne by Loris Azzaro – OK I guess. Nothing special in my eyes.

Man by Calvin Klein  Uomo Ermenegildo Zegna cologne  Calvin Klein Contradiction Homme  Liz Claiborne Lucky Number 6 Men  Chrome Cologne by Loris Azzaro

So what do you think?

Do you agree and like these men’s fragrances, or have I got it all wrong and I’ve missed a great one?

Do please comment below! I’d love to hear your comments.

Categories: Everyday life Tags: ,

Flying in a fixed wing microlight

3 November 2014 Leave a comment

On a warm and sunny November morning I had my first experience of flying in something other than a commercial aircraft. And wow, what a fantastic experience!

It all started when my wife got me a voucher from Experience days to have a quick 20-30 min flight in a microlight. This was via a local company called Flylight based at Sywell Aerodrome just up the road from where I live in Wellingborough.

I believe it was in the region of £80 for the flight which is fairly expensive but after having the flight I can recommend is well worth the cost!

Fixed wing and flexwing

When booking I had the choice of flying in a fixed wing microlight or a flexwing microlight – both sometimes known as ultralights.

Phil, who I had as my instructor, explained the difference between the two is like comparing a car to a bike:

  • The flexwing is your traditional looking microlight where you sit in an open tandem seat (one behind the other) trike slung underneath a hang-glider type wing. It’s open to the elements and is the aircraft for that wind in your hair feeling – basically an airborne motorcycle. These aircraft use a system called weightshift which involves the pilot moving the weight of the trike unit, the body of the aircraft, under the wing to control its speed and direction.
  • Whereas the fixed wing looks like a conventional light aircraft and feels more secure inside. It’s the choice if you want the luxury of a heater and the security of having a door between you and the outside world. The controls are like those on a conventional aircraft, which are operated by a control stick and pedals.
Flexwing microlights in a hanger

All the flexwing microlights were gathered across the other side of the hanger. Bit flimsy looking if you ask me…

To be classified as a Microlight the aircraft has to have a maximum weight not exceeding 450kg. This includes aircraft, pilot, passenger, fuel and luggage.

Aventador EV-97 Eurostar

The Aventador EV-97 Eurostar we’d shortly be flying waiting menacingly in the hanger

Due to availability and the date I wanted to fly I flew in a fixed wing. I think if I had another go I’d definitely like to try the flexwing to compare the experience.

Getting started and pre-flight checks

After arriving and filling out my details on an insurance document, I met my instructor Phil who was a really easy going, talkative chap. He was really great and quite willing to answer all the many questions that I had! He had been flying since the mid 90’s and was an instructor as well as an examiner for pilots wishing to train and get their microlight flying licence.

After speaking about the microlights in the hanger we then moved the microlight we’d be flying out onto the grass. This was a Aventador EV-97 Eurostar, which is a two-seat, light sport aircraft (LSA), manufactured by Evektor-Aerotechnik of the Czech Republic and powered by a Rotax 912ULS, 100 horsepower (75 kW) engine.

They’re so light these aircraft – only 250KG and a doddle to move and push out of a hanger! If you imagine a small car like a polo weighs 1100KG you can see why.

Me next to the microlight

Cheese! I was really lucky, it was great weather to be flying in.

Climbing into the microlight is easy and involves standing on the wing before stepping into the snug cockpit. You just have to watch you don’t tread on the edges of the wings as you’ll easily damage them.

Inside the cockpit of the microlight

The controls inside the cockpit. Notice the two control sticks in front of each seat. “Make sure you don’t touch it whilst we take off!” I was instructed. Gulp, yes sure!

After strapping ourselves in tight we then went through pre-flight checks such as ensuring everything was secure, the instrument readings were correct, we had enough fuel and so on.

He then also explained the instruments in front of us, plus the fuel stop, choke and how to release the glass cockpit cover using the catch behind our head.

The instruments and controls of a microlight

I asked if it was true that you should be able to fly only using the controls and Phil said nah – they can go wrong so it’s mostly done by sight.

The microlight has dual controls meaning both seats have a joined control stick (often called the joystick) that you have between your legs. So as he moves his control stick, you have to watch out your own legs don’t get in the way of the one in front of you which follows the same movements. There’s also pedals in front of both seats that control the flaps of the aircraft. So again I had to make sure my feet were well clear.

We also put on our headphones with microphones and checked to ensure they worked and that we could talk easily to each other. Phil also popped on his regulatory Aviator sunglasses!

Taxiing and take off

After speaking to the local air traffic control tower, which to me was nearly undecipherable – “Golf Charlie Charlie Indigo cross 3/3 to 2, 400ft proceed to take off” or something like that, which basically meant our call sign, that we could cross another runway to take off at runway 2, we were 400ft above sea level, plus details about the air density and so on.

We bounced across the grass to the end of what he described was a run way. To me it was just a big field! Phil pointed out that there are lines on the field that show the direction of take off and landing, but depending on the wind direction you sometimes even take off and land at right angles. Ideally the aim is to always take off and land going into or with the wind.

There was one concrete strip over on the far side which we would actually use later to land, but for now we’d been given instructions to take off from the grass. So the grass it was!

To take off the engine goes to full power, which even with the headphones on you could tell would be a noisy affair. The aircraft picks up speed rapidly and shoots along the ground and then you’re up. It’s amazing how quickly you’re in the air and nothing like taking off in a commercial aeroplane. It felt like we only needed about 100 metres or so before we had enough speed to take off. I did look into this after our flight and it’s only “an unrestricted 400 metre strip required for safe operation”.

Microlights are so light they climb really quickly – apparently 1,000 ft an hour. So before you know it the ground has dropped away and you’re quickly getting a great birds eye view over the air strip and the surrounding buildings. Your stomach doesn’t feel queasy at all when climbing. Even though you can tell you’re rising quickly it’s all very smooth and calm.

Aventador EV-97 Eurostar

The Aventador EV-97 Eurostar we were in apparently can go up to 17,000 feet max. However the optimum height for flying and that which we’d get to is 2-3,000 feet. Above 6,000 ft the aircraft needs to use leaded petrol rather than unleaded (which can separate due to pressures). If you were to go above 10,000 ft you’d need oxygen!

Looking out the side of the canopy

Woo-hoo! Up in the air!

They travel at about 110 knots which is about 125 mph (204 km/h) and with a range of about 800 miles, it’s quite feasible to get in one and pop over to say France for the day. Which to me sounds great though you have to bear in mind they can only fly during the day and not at night.

Apparently to buy them out right they cost about £75,000. Additional running costs are the ‘hangarage’ (storage costs) and the unleaded petrol (the microlight uses about 10 litres an hour of unleaded fuel) amongst other costs.

The experience of flying

When up in the air the feeling of flying is amazing. You get a great sense of freedom. The view is fantastic. It’s really quite relaxing.

.

The aircraft is amazingly stable. There’s nowhere near the sudden drops that I thought we would regularly experience or the feelings like you may get on a roller coaster. There’s was only one point where I felt my heart was in my mouth after we hit an air pocket and we dropped suddenly. But otherwise it felt safe as houses up there!

Selfie in a microlight

Couldn’t resist taking a selfie!

Being in control and flying

I was even given the controls to fly the microlight for 10 minutes or so!

Going up

Gently climbing by pulling the control stick towards you

To do so is very easy and intuitive. Push forward on the control stick and the microlight starts to pitch forward gently and you start to descend. Pull it towards you and the nose rises and you start to ascend.

Push right and the plane pitches to the right. If you were to continue to hold the control stick the plane would continue to pitch more and more severly to the right until you went into a barrel roll! So instead what you do after initially pitching right and starting to turn you return the controls back to the centre position. The microlight would then continue to turn right at the same gentle rate until you move left on the control stick to return the microlight to a horizontal position.

View from the cockpit

What a view! The clouds were very light and it was fun to try and steer round them

Sounds very easy right? Well all I used was the control stick. Phil was continually using the pedals in front of us to use the flaps. These essentially stop the plane from sliding or skidding through the air. He even demonstrated what happened if they’re not used. The wind which can be hitting you diagonally pushes the nose in a different direction to what you’re actually travelling! So what happens is you’re looking out of the side window in the direction the plane is flying just like being in a car that’s skidding! There’s an instrument in the cockpit called the slip ball that shows what skid the aircraft is experiencing and so what pedals you should use to straighten the craft. Fascinating eh?

Slip ball in a microlight

See the instrument with the horizontal white line just to the bottom left off the centre of the picture? That’s the slip ball. The idea is to keep the rolling black cursor in the middle of the line.

We swooped gently around the few clouds that were in the sky and at the same altitude we were at. It was at this point I realised there was no radar. So it’s just a simple case of watching out for other aircraft in the sky. Not sure how that works when it’s really cloudy. I avoided the clouds where I could and simply found the spots to fly between them.

Starting to descend - boo

Starting to descend – boo!

If you were wondering, microlights simply aren’t cut out for doing aerobatics like loop the loops or barrel rolls and the like. Something I was quite glad of!

Landing the plane

After all too short a time it was time to fly back to the aerodrome and land. What we did is fly until we were over the airstrip and then turn to the right. He reduced the throttle and I felt the plane obviously slow. What you then do is follow a square shape whilst descending to approach the concrete landing strip in a set way and land.

Coming in to land in a microlight

Ahead in the distance is the landing strip where we’d shortly be landing. Mind those trees!

I asked Phil if it was true that landing was by far the hardest thing for a pilot and he agreed, joking that it was basically a controlled crash! He then showed though what an adept pilot he was and proceeded to land the softest landing I’ve ever experienced.

He even showed off a bit and we flew down the run way a few feet off the ground for a few hundred metres. I couldn’t even feel it when we did touch down. After that he then pulled the nose up and wheelied down the runway for a few more hundred metres!

As we got to the end he slowed and took a taxi lane off to where our hanger was. We then bobbed over a bit of grass before coming to a stop.

Becoming a pilot

I did ask about what was needed to become a pilot, but to be honest I was buzzing so much after the flight that I can’t remember much of what Phil said!

I think it was generally in the region of £4,000 to get a microlight pilots licence which includes all the training costs. After that you need to fly 12 hours every 24 months – which doesn’t sound much in time or money really.

Syndicates to jointly own a microlight and have fair access to it I thijk styared at about £30 a month

I think if I had money to burn when I got older, I’d definitely invest in this instead of say getting a motorbike. Same sort of costs, but far safer and just as fun!

Categories: Sports Tags: ,

Who or what is the best Skylander?

18 August 2013 Leave a comment

Skylanders GiantsEver since we bought the amazing video game Skylanders Giants for my son’s 6th birthday (we bought the Wii version), all of us in my family have been bitten by the Skylander bug. Well, apart from my wife who’s not that bothered! (she’ll come round I’m sure).

This platform-style game is simply great fun. The characters are brilliant (especially the way they level-up and gain new skills/power etc) and the levels, battles and heroic challenges are really fun to complete.

The fact that you swap the physical toy onto the portal of power is also a great idea too. It makes it much more fun to then collect all the characters.

Anyway, less about the game..!

So who is the best Skylander to play with? As in, the most powerful and the easiest one to play with to advance throughout the levels, complete all the battles and easily achieve all the heroic challenges?

We’ve got all the Skylanders (apart from Ninijini, who’s much too expensive, and Shroom Boom, who we’re not interested in buying), so what I’m suggesting below is from our many hours of playing the game with all the characters you can possibly hope to buy. We’re’ up to about 80% completed now for the game and should hopefully get the final 20% with a little help from Google and locating where the final treasure chests/hats are etc!

So without further ado I give you:

Drobot - Skylanders

Drobot!

.

Here’s my reasons why, I think, he’s the most powerful and easiest character to play and complete skylanders with.

Note, I’m not saying ‘most fun’, which could be any of the characters as they’re all great in their own different ways (for example my fave is Slam-Bam with his jingle bells sleigh and all-conquering close-combat smashing ability).

1. He fires constantly.

You hold down A and blitz everything in your path. None of this constantly-clicking-and-then-getting-cramp-in-your-thumb. You just press once, hold on and he fires constantly, until you let go.  This is of course because he’s a tech Skylander – so Trigger Happy, Drill Sergeant, Sprocket and Bouncer all have the same ‘hold it once’ ability. A really useful ability in my view.

So you just calmly walk through the level (or battle or heroic challenge etc) zapping all who come before you. Each individual ‘zap’ isn’t that powerful, but the sheer volume and deluge of fire power you dish out, means you can kill off even the most powerful monsters quickly.

2. His lasers go really far.

They go really far, like right across the screen and even beyond it. So you don’t have to get worried about getting up close to anyone and getting hit/damaged. So those final battle levels ‘You Only Live Once’ – where you’ve only got one point of life and cannot get hit – are easier to achieve as you don’t have to worry about getting close to your enemies. You can sit back across the far side of the screen and can pretty much obliterate anything before it gets even remotely close to you.

3. His secondary weapon ‘tactical blade gears’ is rubbish.

This might seem like an odd thing to put down for a so called strength, but the benefit is that you don’t get distracted trying to use this B weapon. Instead you just focus solely on using the main lasers weapon instead. These are, all things considered, the only weapon he needs anyway!

4. He’s quick

The fact that he’s a dragon means that he can fly. So if you need that turn of speed to complete a level quickly (if you’re going for that third star and trying to beat the time limit) or even just to get out of the way of a powerful opponent, you can use the afterburners to blast away and travel quickly to a safer location. The fact that these afterburners also damage enemies is a bonus too.

The most highly annoying thing though is that if Drobot is next to something or touches slightly the wall etc, he jolts and falls out of flying mode. So for example you can’t fly down corridors easily.

5. He’s got loads of life.

750 – 800 odd, if you level him up by doing heroic challenges and combining this with a good hat too. This is a massive amount of life and borders on the stats for the Skylander Giants, like Crusher, Tree Rex, Eyebrawl etc. The benefit of course being he’s hard to kill and stays alive longer – making it easier for you to complete levels without losing a life, thus achieving that tick on the final summary for that level.

So what do you think?

Do you agree that Drobot it the best for completing Skylanders? Or do you prefer another character? In which case who!?

Leave me a message below with your thoughts.

Categories: Games Tags: , ,

Feel the love for Darwin Deez

19 July 2013 Leave a comment
Darwin Deez

Darwin Deez (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first discovered Darwin Deez, it was through Spotify. They’re so quirky and unique; a really ace NY indie band.

The upbeat jangly guitar sounds, melodic chord progressions and rhythms, the catchy melodies and of course the charismatic front man himself – Darwin Smith – are all very cool and very endearing and likeable.

I then looked at their stuff on YouTube and completely fell back in love with music videos.They’re so well thought out and entertaining to watch.

Check out the below and see why I’m raving so much…!

Who are Darwin Deez? (blurb taken from the official youtube channel)

An equal mix of indie, wacky, Beck, and Fleetwood Mac, Brooklyn’s Darwin Deez is skilled at mixing sunshine pop with some indie attitude and lo-fi dissonance, but he’s been known to drive audiences crazy with his offbeat, Napoleon Dynamite-like dance routines.

After spending time in the N.Y.C. band Creaky Floors, Deez formed the band that sports his name and released the infectious indie pop single “Constellations.”

Live shows where the bandmembers entered dancing to “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” made them the talk of the Brooklyn hipster set, while the U.K. caught on thanks to their early-2010 single “Radar Detector” and its extremely bonkers video.

That same year the band collected all its best “happy songs for sad people” for a self-titled debut album released by the Lucky Number label.

~ David Jeffries, Rovi

DNA

Weird and awkward choreography to go with a song about breaking up.

Constellations

A Carl Sagan tribute. theberadblog.com/2010/09/14/new-darwin-deez-video-constellations goes into detail about it.

You can’t be my girl

A brilliant video; a story of unrequited love, told using stock video footage.

Free (The Editorial Me)

A cool video where he’s trapped in some kind of momentary Groundhog Day time-vortex. When he tries to break out of it, things get weird. It’s a clever concept that runs throughout the whole video.

Note the copy of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness” in Michelle’s hand when she spills the coffee – an existentialist reference.

Radar Detector

A video based on the book called the Bento Box of Useless Japanese Inventions. It captures the bright weirdness of the band, with lots of eye-popping colour and bizarre adventures.

Up in the clouds

Deez undergoes several weather related punishments to win back his air traffic controller girlfriend.

Bad Day

Video by www.anikainlondon.com.

Categories: Music Tags:
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