The Crystal Maze!

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We did the crystal maze in london yesterday, we actually booked it LAST april because it was sold out for absolutely ages.

The experience itself was great fun, a 90 minute reimagine of the 90’s gameshow.

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Whilst in the maze, the game actually runs concurrently with 3 other teams – so each team is in a zone at a time, and then every X minutes the music kicks in and everyone runs screaming through the halls to the next zone and the teams kind of rotate – it also means at the end you are pitted against all of the other teams.

Our maze master was quirky and entertaining, but obviously the stars of the show was our team itself, which were at times quite painful to watch, especially in the games where you couldn’t assist in any way. Our team of 8 managed a sad 7 crystals out of 17 games….

Me: XO
Luke: XXX
Chris: XX
Alice: XO

Ronak: XO
Ed: XO
Ian: OO
Matt: XO

The zones and games themselves were similar to those in the show, only with a little less impressive decoration and many of the rooms were relatively small.
The two games I got to play, the first involved throwing a ball around from below and above was a maze which only my teammates could see, the second was like a typical escape game style scenario involving searching around a room using a blacklight – unfortunately didn’t clear this one as  I just couldn’t find the UV writing in good time.

A selection of some of the other games we had to play include:
Guiding Luke through a laser maze while he was blindfolded
Watching Chris struggle to assemble an electrical circuit
Watching Alive solve a murder mystery to find the correct key and lockbox
Watching Ronak last 10 seconds before getting locked in with the physical game
Laughing at Ian as he rolled inside a giant tube to transport Cannonballs across a room

Right at the end of the evening, you all get herded into a room with loud music and an announcer and get to see the other teams and how many crystals they grabbed, everyone cheers for each other and it all feels very gameshow in the best kind of way. Then you everyone takes turns to go into the crystal dome and do the paper grabbing. We actually got the least amount of crystals in our timeslot, with the other teams getting 8, 10 and 12 respectively

It was fucking frantic in there, everyone crowded round the mailbox flailing their arms trying to grab at gold paper, literally peeling it off my face to put into the box. They announced the winners afterwards and we actually grabbed the 2nd highest amount of tickets, though allegedly some of us cheated rofl. There were no actual prizes, and honestly it was hilarious to come 2nd when the other groups beat us in crystals.

All in all a fantastic night, though I wish I got to play more of the games myself – unfortunately a lot of it is watching other people struggle, but it’s a team game at the end of the day, and really makes me think that I need to get down to one of those escape rooms again sometime. It was a little bit expensive for the length of time that it lasted, though I can kind of see why because it’s not easy work to coordinate and the maze masters really put a lot of effort in to make the experience fun (not to mention all the staff you see sneaking around in the background trying to reset the puzzles without you noticing).

http://the-crystal-maze.com/ 

Life – March 2017

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Getting my moneys worth

So my company recently introduced a kind of rewards thing called Perkbox, which gives me access to tons of money off things, percentage discount on groceries, near half off on cinema tickets and stuff like that. Which is really just as well because i’ve been getting completely shit on in terms of my finances lately. After booking plane tickets to Thailand/Taiwan early last month and then car insurance due this weekend, i’ve basically wiped out an entire months paycheck without much to show for it. I’ve actually recently applied for a cashback credit card, and am hoping to start using more of those cashback websites and things like that to try and save a bit more money where I can – in the hopes it all makes a difference in the long run (I imagine it will, 5% off all food shopping is sure to add up over a year).

 

Employee of the month

So as a nice little bonus from work, I got £100 amazon gift card the other week, which is a pretty nice gesture and pat on the back for myself. I consistently close the most tickets per week and so I guess this is his way of tiding me over before I start asking for a payrise. One of the sales guys actually came over while I was eating lunch and was like ‘I hear you hold the helpdesk record’ so i’m not entire sure what my manager has been saying about me, but I’ve had little comments from the directors and managers so it’s good to know im in a better spot than my previous job with the thankless Barton Technology (who appear to have downsized even more since I left).

 

28th Birthday

It was my birthday at the end of last month, and whilst work was fairly uneventful, the girlfriend spoiled me a little in the evening and we stuffed ourselves with five guys and then watched the relentless John Wick Chapter 2 – which was more or less just Keanu Reeves shooting people in the face for 90 minutes or so (with the remainder being a montage of him picking out guns and getting a tailored suit). I got a backpack, a boardgame called Pentago (looks like a mindfucky version of connect 4) and some video games.

 

RIP headset

My old Corsair HS1 headset started to die on me mid month, with sound only coming out through one ear unless I whip the cable around for 5 minutes. I checked my warranty only to find that I had actually been using the headset for around 5 years before it packed up. Playing R6 Siege and only being able to hear through 1 ear was a real headache so I ended up just biting the bullet and buying a new one (even though I really would have rather not this month).
I picked up the Corsair Void Wireless headset, which was a little on the expensive side, but i’ve kind of been wanting a wireless headset for a while now and so the extra £30 seemed like a reasonable investment for the freedom of movement and insurance that I won’t tread all over the cable or trip on the cable and fuck up my USB ports (again).

 

Bitcoin is still terrifying

So remember how I bought Bitcoin and it was going up £40 per day? This is what happened later that week (Note that I bought in at around £840 per)

Now, I don’t know if any of you guys have tried your hand at investment (particularly when investing thousands of pounds) but seeing your investment a few weeks later suddenly seeing your investment plummet is not fantastic for mental health. Thankfully, the prices have since recovered and hit an all time high (it actually hit £1000 per unit for the first time ever earlier today) but the thought that if I had waited 2 weeks before buying I could have functionally gained an extra £800 is kind of sad. Oh well, if r/bitcoin is anything to go by, it’ll all be small fry in a few years. (Dudes on there are saying it’ll be worth $3k to £10k in 3 years, but I highly doubt that)

Life – February 2017

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Been a while huh.

Kind of depressing how boring and routine life becomes after you finish uni and get a ‘proper’ job.
Here are some things that happened.

 

Holiday Booked!

We’ve booked another Holiday! Come June we’ll be heading back to Bangkok, Thailand for a week, before jetting over to Taipei, Taiwan for a week as well. More excited than expected for Bangkok considering i’ve already been there once and seen most of the major sites, but the thought of being able to indulge in all of the authentic thai food really makes me salivate – Mango sticky rice and Spicy Papaya salad are definitely must haves before you die.
Taiwan will be completely new to me, the rest of my family went last year without me, and so i’m sure they’ll be giving me lots of advise on things to do and eat, i’ve heard there are plenty of night markets there and they love their street food. Just the other month I got to try taiwanese style fried chicken and it was pretty damn good – a full butterfly chicken breast bigger than your face, fried up with panko style crumb and sprinkled with a spicy seasoning. Oh, obviously it’s also the birthplace of Bubble Tea!

 

Cordelia’s Birthday

Went out for the girlfriend’s birthday where she got drunk, was definitely an exercise in social interaction, as out of the 20 or so people that turned up, I only knew a small handful of them (and by that i mean, met once or twice, tops). The night was planned to be a pub crawl, but obviously we ended up spending the entire 4 or 5 hours in one pub. I got her one of those Brita water filter bottles as well as a 2 player board game called ‘Hive’, which is supposedly like an abstract version of Chess featuring insect hexagons.

 

Diet and Fitness revival

So once again, went home for the weekend and stepped on the scale to find I had gained 3/4 of a stone somehow. Probably from eating shitloads of junk food while living on my own, because lets be real, it’s way easier to do chicken strips and fries (and they taste amazing) than it is to make a salad or healthy meal.
I tried doing low carb for a little while, but then I realised I have no idea how to do that and my body just gravitates towards unhealthy shit naturally – I was on a strange diet of salad followed by a quarter roll of biscuits. Over the last week or so i’ve started being stricter, going for practically keto again, and starting up a fitness plan of push ups, planks and jogging.
I’ve never really been good at jogging or anything paced, I can sprint pretty damn well – and used to do the 100m dash back in school for sports days, but any of the ‘races’ that involved more than 200m were basically hopeless for me. Starting last week was painful, I didn’t realise that jogging works your thighs so hard, my route is only 0.6mi (1km) but I was honestly struggling to do half of it without having a hernia, today however seemed to be a bit of a breakthrough, somehow managed to jog the whole thing in one go before practically dying at my doorstep for a minute or two.

 

Resident Evil 7 is not a Resi game

Thanks to good friend GrantDN, and some other friends helping to spur me on through the scariest segments of the game, managed to push through and complete Resi7 in 8.5 Hours. it was a great game, honestly very scary and atmospheric, fantastic visually, good sound effects. The last 1/3 started to drag a little bit, and you can tell they definitely front-loaded all of the best parts of the game in terms of atmosphere and detail, but nonetheless it was a satisfying ride and tense from start to finish. My main complaint is that outside of the inventory and item selection, it’s not really a resident evil game at all, though I suppose one could argue that everything past code veronica falls into the same category. I’m actually kind of upset that it wasn’t an original game as I think they could have done more with it, and the way they try to tack it on to the resi universe just felt forced and lame (spoilers: hardly any reference to umbrella, existing characters or the universe). It’s a massive shame that Silent Hills was cancelled because judging by RE7, that game would have been terrifying.

 

Farmville V2

Did I talk about stardew valley here yet? Goddamn that game was addictive. I picked it up over christmas because I had nothing to play on my laptop, and quickly ended up dumping a shitload of hours into it. The progression, exploration and just generally all the things you can do in that game is awesome, and while it can start to get repetitive eventually, sticking with it for another few hours usually provides the next item you require to trivialise whatever was slowing you down previously. Strongly recommend, and honestly if I had played it during 2016 it might have made my 2016 list – or at least I would have had more content to make a top 10 instead of top 5.

 

Other Games

Still playing a ton of R6 siege, and actually just bought the Year 2 season pass, that game has so many layers of depth and i’ve clocked so many hours already that I think i can justify spending the extra £20. Also I got the most badass C4 kill the other day, randomly throwing it onto the roof and exploding it and getting a kill. Hopefully didn’t get reported for it, because I genuinely just took a guess and stuck it to the ceiling.

Got to play ABZU the other day as my brother gifted me a copy (think he got a spare in humble monthly), really nice game, though i’m not sure it’s worth the hype it got. For 90 minutes though it’s an incredibly beautiful ride.

Picked up Disgaea 2 PC as well while it was on launch sale, I played it a little bit on the PSP I think but I don’t actually think I ever got very far – either on PSP or original PS2.

What you should be watching this season – Winter 2016/17

posted in: Anime, Highlights, WYSBW | 0

Small but solid collection of decent shows this season, or maybe i’m just getting lazier in terms of watching and filtering the trash.

 

QT Vampire Tier

Interviews with monster girls (Demi-chan wa Kataritai)

Featuring a teacher in a school with a bunch of demi-human girls and his journey to learn more about them – a vampire, a dullahan, a succubus and a snow woman. Comedy with a touch of harem and featuring some adorable schoolgirls. Definitely recommend giving the first episode a watch at least to see if you like it.

 

Also worth watching I suppose

 

Little Witch Academia

Think anime harry potter but with more emphasis on comedy, and animated by studio trigger. Little witch academia is a joy to watch, just like the films which precede it. Each episode seems pretty self contained as well, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

Masamune-Kun’s Revenge

A former fatty gets buff and decides to take revenge on a girl who broke his heart, by seducing her only to break her heart back.
That description actually makes this show sound way more hardcore than it actually is.

 

Scum’s Wish (Kuzu no Honkai)

A rather dark and serious romantic drama – saying much more would be telling, but it’s lewd and way more serious than I thought it would be. Best to go in blind.

 

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

As bad as this show sounds, with it’s plotline of ‘a dragon which becomes a maid’, this show is actually surprisingly entertaining and adorable. Won’t be winning any awards, but quite enjoyable to throw on in the background.

 

 

Reminder: Konosuba Season 2 is airing as well.

A terrifying foray into Bitcoin

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So a close friend of mine works at a Bitcoin casino and one day around new years he mentions to me that Bitcoin was on track to hit $1000 USD per BTC.

One long shit and a shower later, I started doing some serious research into bitcoin value and how it all works,

This is what looks like, it was actually around 450 USD mid 2016, and then suddenly it practically explodes and skyrockets.
What caused it I wondered, and then remembered. Trump.

So if the graph looks like this and Trump isn’t even officially in the whitehouse yet… what will happen when he actually starts making changes?
This coupled with similar worries about our own country in regards to brexit and a british pound which could crumble if Theresa May waves her arm too hard, and it got me thinking that I should maybe invest in some bitcoins before it’s too late.

Breaking into the market was terrifying, my friend hooked me up with some reading material https://bitcasino.io/bitcoin-info which was a massive help in finding out where to grab coins from, however without knowing anyone who had actually been down that route, I was somewhat on my own to find out, and finding out in this game means risking some big money.

After reading some reviews I ended up on Kraken.com which is apparently legit, the only problem is that the only way to buy the coins is to transfer money… to luxemborg. Couple this with the fact that it was Sunday before the bank holiday, and the fact it takes 1-5 days for the funds to reach and be registered on the website, and i’m actually sitting here £510 out of pocket, with money in the ether somewhere between international banks and nothing to show for it. I’m hopeful that the money will go through fine and i’ll eventually be able to do something on the Kraken, but sitting and checking the bitcoin value every day was driving me crazy – the value was still skyrocketing and would go up £20 while I slept, I needed something faster if i was to properly capitalise on this opportunity.

I dug around a little bit more and had a peek at Bitstamp and Coinbase, but didn’t end up going too far with either.

Back to work on the Tuesday, and I realised I did know someone who had purchased bitcoin after all…
One of my colleagues had to buy some on behalf of a company who had fallen foul to some nasty ransomware – the cost of the ransom was something like 3 or 5 BTC. I asked him where he got it from and he recommended me to the site i’m now using – Localbitcoins.com

This website was shockingly easy to use compared to Kraken and Bitstamp, both of which required pictures of your ID, proof of address and so on, localbitcoins you trade with other users rather than with the website and so each of the traders will have their own requirements – some of them want you to have X amount of previous trades, a certain amount of reputation or a selfie with ID. I found what appears to be a pretty trustworthy group of traders who work for bitbroker.co.uk who only required a selfie to be able to trade with any of their members. It also allegedly has buyer protection, essentially taking the bitcoin from the seller and giving buyers advantage in terms of safety.

The first transaction was the scariest, though I wouldn’t say any of them were particularly enjoyable to take part in.
Clicking the buy button takes you to a chat screen where they basically send their bank info for you to pay into (direct bank transfer between UK banks) and then you click a button to say you’ve sent the money and then… you wait… and pray…
The first transaction I didn’t know whether to hit the button which says ‘i’ve paid’ – scared that If i hit the button and wasn’t meant to, that it’d flag to the site and close the transaction as complete , turns out the trader had already released the bitcoin by the time I mustered the courage to push the button and so it was no problem though.

I performed multiple transactions with the group, all went off without a hitch, and now I have some bitcoins.It’s a very strange concept knowing you’ve sent off thousands of pounds to another bank account to be awarded with a single digit number.

Here’s hoping my investment pays off,
If things go sour, I won’t be too upset, after all without risk there is no reward.

 

Of interesting note, During the window which I was buying yesterday, the price fluctuated £10
I woke up today and it had gone up £40
I went to work, came home, and it had gone up another £40

If I had somehow bought 10 BTC on the first day, I would be literally £1000 richer only 4 days later – not far off from a months wage after tax.

The best PC games of 2016

posted in: Games, Highlights, top 10 | 1

Notable PC games this year: Overwatch, Dark Souls 3, Owlboy, Stardew Valley, Battlefield 1, The Witness, Inside, Dishonored 2, Gears of War 4, Titanfall 2, DOOM, Abzu, Planet Coaster, Hitman, SUPERHOT, Overcooked, The Division, Zero Escape 3: ZTD, Mirrors Edge Catalyst, COD Infinite, Steep, Quantum Break, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Firewatch, Civilization 6, Darkest Dungeon, Thumper, Dead rising 4, Oxenfree, Watch Dogs 2, Street fighter 5

 

Top 5 Games of the Year

5. Battlerite

How the hell did this sneak on here?
I may have mentioned before that when I bought Battlerite a few months ago, I literally set a timer so I could decide whether or not to refund it just before the 2 hour mark. I’m now at 61 hours or so, which is more than everything else on this list. It’s a MOBA arena game which just manages to do everything pretty well – Any complaints of ‘not enough characters’ and ‘shit cosmetics’ will almost certainly be resolved later on down the line, as will the ‘high’ price tag of £15.

 

4. Planet Coaster

It has been X years since Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, and naturally we were itching for a modern release (as, let’s be honest, RCT3 was pretty barebones in terms of 3d graphics). Then just at the right time, along comes Planet Coaster, with all of it’s gorgeous visuals, it’s curved paths, it’s ‘how fucking many?’ Rollercoaster types and practically infinite ways to decorate your park and shops (provided you have the time). Aside from optimization and maybe some more variation in shops/rides, it’s hard to really think what else could be improved on in Planet Coaster as far as single player experiences go.

 

3. Zero Escape 3: Zero Time Dilemma

Kotaro Uchikoshi does it again. Whilst not quite on the same level as it’s predecessors, ZE3 has some great puzzling, and interesting branching story. Best of all, even though you know there is some weird shit going on, the revelation moment will still manage to catch you off guard and give you that holy shit moment. I have to say though that eric in team Q is literally the most irritating character i’ve come across.

 

2. DOOM

Doom did not mess around, it threw you into this linear world filled with hellspawn, gave you a shotgun and then proceeded to just wail guitar and dubstep noises at you relentlessly until you finished the game. It was in your face, dumb and myself and just about everyone else who played doom fucking loved it’s straightforward nature. Shoot things in the face, move on, repeat – No cover, No long story sequences, No vehicle traversal between areas. Anyone looking for a fantastic singleplayer FPS campaign should give this a play.

 

1. The Witness

The witness undoubtedly gave me the most ‘holy shit’ moments in gaming this year, whilst I wasn’t particularly fond of the ending, the puzzles and the unique ways in which you need to approach them are absolutely amazing, similarly the world and it’s mystery and secrets provided plenty of additional things to do between getting stuck. I also really loved that the game basically doesn’t tell you anything, even the tutorials I don’t remember the game explicitly giving me any directions but rather ‘here is something simple, figure out the rules for yourself’ – and I love that, especially in an age of videogaming where developers feel the need to really hand hold the whole way through out of fear of losing the player, Blow’s masterpiece does the polar opposite and sets off with or without you. I’d imagine anyone who has played through the game will agree that it’s puzzles are genius in both creativity and design, and those who have played through and doesn’t probably didn’t ‘get it’, which is of course is a big problem in a game where all of the enjoyment is derived from eventually ‘getting it’.

 

Bonus!

Just missed the list:

Inside – Short and sweet, I completed it in a sitting or two and it was a fantastic experience throughout. Didn’t really do anything groundbreaking but it was incredibly polished and had just the right quantity of mystery to push you forward.

Hitman – A fantastic return to form for the series, it’s a shame there are so few levels, but the levels that are there are some of the best in the series. The new detection system works well too, making more sense than the old blood money system while not being as daft as the absolution ‘ima just hide my face’ system.

Dark Souls 3 – More of the same, and that’s hardly a bad thing, though I have to admit it’s not gripped me quite as well as it’s predecessors.

 

Biggest Disappointment:

Titanfall 2 – I absolutely adored the first Titanfall, hitting the level cap multiple times over, so when Titanfall 2 was announced I was super hype, the potential for basically the same game with new maps, more weapons, more abilities, customization and so on sounded awesome. And then the beta dropped, and somehow they had just gotten everything wrong, the movement was slower, they changed certain mechanics, and whilst the retail version of the game has fixed some of these changes, the result is still more ‘Call of Titanfall’ than the Titanfall I fell in love with. I’m yet to really clock much time with it because I just have no urge to play, the gunplay is as solid as ever but it feels like TTK is down, the titans are crazy fragile and rarer, the new abilities are rubbish, no custom titan loadout choices, can’t change the AI voice and the maps are all really forgettable and boring. A cry everytime.

 

Best Singleplayer Experience:

Titanfall 2 – Okay so yeah I just finished talking about everything I’m not keen on with Titanfall 2, but you’ll notice there was no mention of the campaign that they added. The campaign was awesome, i’d actually argue better than DOOM’s. It was literally the opposite of everything I just said in the paragraph above. Awesome level design, titans feel satisfying to play with the added shield, clever use of game mechanics and a super interesting part which you won’t see coming. The short but sweet campaign was memorable and great fun.

 

Most Overhyped:

Overwatch – I’m still struggling to see the appeal of Overwatch, the time i’ve spent with it was ‘okay’ at best, lacking much satisfaction when you do well and being a real slog if you are on the back foot.

 

 

Game whose servers are going to be empty by this time next year

Steep – Calling it now. that game is boring, people just haven’t realised it yet (or maybe they have?).

Prague 2016 – Day 7 – Running out of time

posted in: holiday, Vienna/Prague 2016 | 0

Wednesday unfortunately marks the final day of our holiday, with our plane booked for 9:30pm. Our airbnb hosts were nice enough to let us keep the room a few hours longer than we were meant to, so we could stay in the warm until 4pm at least, so we kind of planned our day around that.

We considered going into central again but honestly im not sure what we’d end up doing there other than freezing to death, so we decided on just doing a few things around vinohrady and chilling in the flat.

After some lunch we went to Questerland, a nearby Escape room game, it’s one of the higher rated ones in prague and has the added benefit of being in walking distance from our flat and pretty damn cheap (800czk for the both of us, or about £27). There were quite a few scenarios but I thought i’d go with the bank vault escape, where you’ve broken into a bank but the door has closed behind you. We had great fun, there were lots of secrets and interesting puzzles, and the place was empty so our host was pretty chill with us taking as long as we needed.

Walked through a czeck market on the way back to the flat, definitely not geared towards tourists because hardly any english there, was pretty interesting to see what kinds of things they were selling.

Lunch was traditional, some variety of meat in a cream and dil sauce with bread dumplings, of which I don’t think i’m ever going to get used to. We’d chill and then finally collect our stuff before leaving the flat for the last time.

But we weren’t done with Prague just yet….
Due to a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of what a Thai Massage is, we were booked in for one at one of the better parlours in Prague. We arrived and were promptly whisked into a side room with 2 beds ready for us, where we were then asked to strip down to our underwear. The next hour consisted of a Thai lady tenderizing my back like how you’d loosen up beef, a lengthy mix of overly forceful kneading of my flesh with plenty of forced bone cracking. At one point she straight up just stood and walked all over me, standing on the back of my calves, my ass, my back and shoulders… At another point she sat on my ass and then tried to snap me in half from behind… There was also a move which involved her grabbing my legs and inserting her heel in that spot just inside your inner thigh (read: right next to my balls). It was definitely up there with the most painful paid sessions i’ve had in my life, and I only have myself to blame. At least I felt refreshed afterwards right? Well… not really, and it was a bit weird to walk for a little bit, the soles of my feet in particular felt like they had an arch forcefully sculpted into them (I have flat feet).

After being thoroughly brutalized, we headed to the airport for plenty of waiting around, and eventually our flight back to England – where we would end up stuck at Gatwick for ages because of a stupid southern rail strike.

 

Prague 2016 – Day 6 – Old and New town

posted in: holiday, Vienna/Prague 2016 | 0

We’d spend the majority of the morning randomly wandering around Pragues old town, cobbled streets and tall buildings with some random castle towery things interspersed (presumedly to keep the trolls out or something). Unintentionally ended up back at the old town square back where we were the other night. The square was probably just as busy, but now the sky was a lovely bright blue instead of the blackness we had seen last night, the downside of course is that the tree looked way less impressive.

We peeked into a few of the churches around the square which we hadn’t seen the other day, St Nicholas church across the street had a rather impressive big ol’ chandelier thing in the centre, and some pretty nice ceiling art.

Back outside we started to notice a very large congregation of people around the astronomical clock, 12o’clock was drawing close so we figured there would be some huge fanfare when it struck so we joined the crowd and waited it out.
The bells rang, accompanied by some tiny statues moving along and ringing smaller bells, a bit unimpressive if I’m being honest.

Lots of christmas market food for lunch, including bavarian crown, some hotdogs and some amaretto punch. We tried visiting the large church at the back of the christmas tree, but it was closed for a lunch, still took some pictures of the inside though through the glass.

*Wandering around intensifies*

We’d do some winow shopping, take a break in a chocolate shop, went to ‘moser crystal’ which was a super expensive shop filled with crystal and glass – some centrepieces being in the £100,000’s, didn’t take any pictures as we were being watched the whole time. We also went into Hamleys which is actually a british toy store, however the interior of the Prague branch was very impressive with a carousel and slide between floors. We’d stumble upon another christmas market with donkeys, a Jewish synagogue (which was closed for hibernation) and an old style shopping plaza, before finally ending up at the dancing house towards the south of central prague.

We arrived around 4pm just when the sun was starting to retreat, so got some pretty nice sunset shots around the river, it’s a shame it wasn’t the same side that the castle was on.

The rest of the night is a bit of a blur, Cordelia wanted to go into a place called Nightmare horror bar, which is themed on old horror films, it was really cool inside and all of the cocktails and shots were spooky themed. Unfortunately I underestimated the cocktails and had a bit too much to drink, and subsequently felt very ill for the rest of the night. Dinner was at a restaurant nearby where I just had some goulash and bread, and then had to take frequent pauses on the trip home to play the ‘burp or vom?’ game with myself (thankfully, all burps).

Prague 2016 – Day 5 – Castle district

A frosty morning would greet us as we opened the door to be greeted by minus 4 degrees weather, the czech weather certainly does not play around.

It was a fairly easy train ride over to the castle district, where we would be spending the majority of our day. The station is actually kind of outside of the castley area, so we’d have to take a bit of a trek uphill to get there, to be met by armed guards and airport style equipment to search all who were to enter, the czech appear to still be using the castle as some form of actual fortress by the looks of things.

The view from the top of the hill was impressive, giving a great overview of many of Pragues landmarks, there were droves of tourists of course which was a bit of a shame, but I guess you can’t have it all. The castle was actually more of a small town or collection of huge buildings if you would prefer, cobbled roads lay inbetween tall buildings with some castle remnants spread inbetween the gift shops and cafes. Of interesting note was some random statue of a guy with a gleaming penis, a small crowd gathered around it with people taking it in turns to rub his dong.

Further on up the hill we would come across a small Christmas market and an incredible church – the Cathedral of St Vitus. Unbeknownst to us, you can actually see this cathedral atop the hill from most places in Prague, and for good reason, it was seriously gigantic.

After taking pictures of it’s impressive exterior we made the mistake (?) of paying a little extra to climb up the belltower – which turned out to be a a real challenge, I’ll be honest and say was actually expecting to turn the corner after the ticket booth and see a lift, but nope, only a narrow spiral staircase maybe 1.5m in Diameter, with 287 steps (approx 90 meters – an average 2 story UK house is approx 8 meters, for comparison). People coming down the staircase were actually cheering the ascending people on, that’s how rough that shit was. The view from the top, thankfully, was breathtaking, with pretty clear views of all of Prague.

Back down on the floor, we looked inside the Cathedral but didn’t feel like paying the additional entry cost as we could already see most of the goods from the entrance. Some real size to the hall, and some lovely detailed stained glass windows, the church was actually only completed in the 1930’s so I guess that would explain some of the interior detail.

Some christmas market lunch (delicious chorizo hotdog and some trdelnik [Chimney cake] ) and then we were off again to another church, this time the Loreto, which was a Marian pilgimage site with church and treasury inside. The entrance fee was kind of steep, and they actually didnt even want us to take photos inside without paying another 100czk for a ‘photography pass’ but the place wasnt very policed so we had our way with it, the main church area at the back was quite nice and completely empty. The treasury upstairs was a nice bonus as well, featuring a piece called the ‘Prague Sun’ which is a monstrance encrusted with 6000 plus diamonds.

Yet more walking! Downhill this time and eastward back towards civilisation, we stopped off at a chocolate cafe because we were freezing. We ended up at the Prague chocolate cafe and bistro – Cordelia ordered a chocolate beer and I thought i’d try their speciality – a hot chocolate.
What arrived in front of me was very literally hot chocolate – barely even classified a liquid, it looked almost as if thy had thrown a small bar of chocolate into a mug, warmed it up and called it a day, or perhaps my waitress confused the containers for chocolate fondue and drinking chocolate? Regardless of the case, I ended up with a mug of super sweet melted chocolate which I just could not drink to save my life out of fear of sugar overdose.

St Nicholas church would meet us at the bottom of the hill, yet another large church to marvel at, this one featuring a beautiful bright painted ceiling and some very impressively huge statues. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

We’d wander around a little more and stumble upon the John Lennon wall, a rather strange place to put it, given that the Beatles are British, and so is John Lennon but hey ho. The wall itself was graffiti’d from top to bottom with various colours and optimistic quotes.

We had finally concluded our activities west of the river, and could finally make our way across the famed Charles Bridge, the huge paved bridge adorned with various statues which you may have seen upvoted on reddit once or twice. It was equally impressive in person, especially because the Cathedral and castle district sit high upon a hill in the background, making for some really nice pictures (I hope ). We were on it long enough that eventually a huge man with a cloak and cape strolled down the whole bridge and manually ignited all of the lamps on the bridge.

My camera battery was starting to flash by this stage, unsurprising given I had taken almost 300 photos by this point in the day, and didn’t bother charging the battery yesterday. I had hoped to not go to anywhere massively impressive until tomorrow out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to photograph it.

Then as we wandered through the cobbled sideroads, we came across Old Town Square, filled with it’s golden astronomical clock, a massive Christmas market, the largest and brightest Christmas tree I’ve seen all holiday, and some form of church in the background. We blitzed them all, intending to come for a second round tomorrow.
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, have some kind of underwhelming pork for dinner and then back to the flat to rest and defrost.

Vienna/Prague 2016 – Day 4 – Intermission

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Our journey over from Vienna to Prague was fairly uneventful, and took far longer than we expected it to. We checked out of our airbnb fairly easily, essentially just leaving the keys in the room and sending a whatsapp message to our host, and then headed towards the station, grabbing a few snacks along the way before ending up a McDonalds for lunch (I know, I know). To my surprise, the Maccy’s was actually pretty nice with some interesting changes from our british menu, like a chicken and guacamole burger.

We were a little early for our train and so had to wait around for a little while, before eventually boarding and then struggling to work out how the seats were arranged, as we suspect some of them had been booked, but not being able to read much german we were kind of at a loss.
The train ride was long, approximately 4 hours or so, I filled the time mostly by using the trains onboard wifi and playing some android games (Colossatron), I think I may have dozed off a little in the middle as well.

We eventually hit Prague (or Praha), the sun had now set and Prague central station was enveloped in a creepy fog. It took us longer than expected to work out how to use the ticket machines at the station, primary because the bastard things only took coins and we were fresh into the country and stacked with 500 notes.

After some getting lost on the tubes and streets, we arrived at our next accomodation for 3 days, hosted by a lovely lady called Denisa, she showed us to the room and introduced us to some maps and how to get around, before actually giving us some basic food for breakfast (eggs, ham, cheese, bread, etc). The room itself is a good size and most importantly was nice and warm, we had not expected Prague to be any colder than Vienna but apparently that was a mistake.

Dinner was at a small Vietnamese place a few streets down, where a nice hot bowl of Pho would help to warm me up, the prices were insaely cheap after staying in Vienna for a few days, with Dinner for two coming to just over a tenner GBP.

Vienna 2016 – Day 3 – Museums

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Nice little lay in today, I don’t think we properly really got moving until 11am or so. We’d start the day by heading back towards Stephensplatz so I could pick up a magnet for my fridge (tradition now) before heading down south towards the treasury and national library. I had seen some quite impressive looking pictures of the library online and wanted to check it out, however upon entering, we were kind of unable to find where to go, all we could see was a museum which you had to pay to enter, and the actual library itself which had turnstiles and multiple notices saying ‘we are not a tourist information centre’.

We gave up on the idea eventually, and just kept exploring outside. We hadn’t checked this segment of vienna on the first day so it was all pretty much new to us, wide open spaces and huge fancy buildings everywhere – the aforementioned library was insanely big and fancy in its architecture.

A little further south we’d come across the museumsquartier, where we’d end up spending the majority of our day. A pop up Christmas market in the middle of the plaza, flanked by two gigantic museums and a third at the end of the plaza in front of us. The shops were the usual fare, though it was a Saturday so we didn’t really stick around to browse too much as it was just so incredibly busy.

We ended up going into the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which is technically an art museum I believe. Entry was a very steep 15 euros, so were pretty worried it might be shit and not worth the money, but the initial area we could see from the front door seemed promising so we went for it. It was a good thing we did! the museum was incredible inside (and actually #3 for Vienna attractions on Tripadvisor, unbeknown to me at the time), the internal architecture and detail in every single one of the rooms was super impressive, let alone all of the things on display. Whilst the upper level was indeed mostly paintings, the lower floor had a collection of roman and egyptian antiques, majority of which were super impressive – detailed glasswork, pottery, jewellery, statues carved from ivory, bone and bronze..
We spent hours looking around, before spending a bit of time sitting in the cafe to try Vienna’s signature Sachertorte, which is a chocolate cake with layer of apricot jam and topped with Dark chocolate, it was nice though perhaps not as great as I was expecting – it certainly wasn’t any Blackforest.

After thoroughly exploring the museum, we’d venture back out into the museumsquartier where it was now dark, the museum opposite had projections on the face of it, and all of the christmas lights were in full bloom, making for some nice pictures (I hope).

We’d set out north looking for an early dinner before landing in another austrian restaurant. This one was pretty good though, had a lovely main of Roast beef with onions and an incredible gravy… Yum.

Rathaus plaza was our next destination, which had been very impressively lit up and adorned with it’s own christmas market and gigantic ice skating rink. This Ice rink was like nothing I had ever seen, it wasn’t a normal oval but rather like it had just enveloped a small forest, with multiple paths around the trees, as well as long single channel paths and even a roundabout, it all weaved and interconnected to smaller more tradional rinks.

The market was similarly huge, which was just as well because it was absolutly heaving with people – being a saturday night and all. We were at the mercy of the crowd at some points, and trying to take pictures without some tall austrian’s head in the way was a real challenge. Stopped again for some more cake, Mozart cake this time, which I believe is chocolate and pistachio – as usual I could only really taste the chocolate…

We’d wander around for a while, taking pictures of all the lights as well as Rathaus from afar, before eventually wandering down towards the Vienna parliment building to check that out as well. By the time we were done there, the cold was really starting to get to us, and so we would head home.

Vienna 2016 – Day 2 – Schönbrunn and Prater

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Day 2 was basically designated as our Schönbrunn Palace day.The Palace is widely regarded as the must see attraction in Vienna, and comprises of a huge palace which may have been home to a Johann Strauss,  an imperial horse carriage museum, a bunch of cafes, and palace grounds and gardens which must span around 2 square miles.

This palace grounds are actually walking distance from the airbnb flat we are staying in,  albeit a long walk –  so we headed over in the morning by foot while getting battered by rain and then had the joy of spending about 20 minutes or so queuing to get tickets…  Only to then find out that we would not be allowed into the palace for another hour and a half due to the way they stagger people’s entrance.

So while waiting I thought I’d grab tickets for a nearby apple strudel show, basically 10 euros lets you watch some chefs make traditional Viennese apple strudel –  the queue for this was again about 15 minutes or so,  but it was all so badly explained that when I arrived,  it turns out you can’t just buy some strudel there (despite it being a huge cafe with trays of apple strudel literally just sitting behind the last behind the counter) –  you have to watch the show to get the food, and apparently you can’t just buy tickets for later on, you have to pay and catch the next show,  which was in 40 minutes and would clash with roughly when we were due to go into the palace…  The woman was so incredibly rude that It just pissed me off and I ended up saying forget it and walking out,  this rudeness unfortunately seems to be pretty common in the country.

We’d spend an hour or so in the imperial carriage museum nearby, featuring the carriages used to ferry royals about the street, all rather impressively detailed and in gold trim. One of the funeral carriages in particular were really impressive,  there was also a bunch of garments on display.

Eventually, we headed to the palace to have our walk around, we skipped the audio guide because honestly I don’t think either of us cared that much for the proper history of the place. We had purchased the grand tour tickets, of which there is an imperial tour which has 22 rooms, and the grand tour which has 40 rooms.

The interior of the palace was a bit underwhelming, perhaps because I went to Nueschwanstein Castle last year which was basically the same thing but way more impressive, but the rooms were nice and royal but not particularly jaw dropping. There were a few rooms which were impressive of course, and I tried to sneak a picture even though you aren’t supposed to.

Outside the main palace was a huge pop up Christmas market, where we’d have a wander around the shops and get some food for lunch. Plenty of interesting things to eat,  we had goulash is bread bowl, a hash brown thing, and Cordelia bought some form of dumpling thing called a Germknodel which was interesting… It was filled with spiced plum filling or something. We also popped into a small cafe just to warm up and have a bit of a sit down, I regrettably ordered some Apple strudel there, which was a bit soggy and not really impressive at all. We’d spend a few hours walking around the palace grounds until we got tried, we’d keep stumbling upon these gigantic structures as we were walking around which would slow us down from getting back home, as we’d inevitably have to take photos.

Back to the flat after this, where I’d apparently pass out for an hour or so from exhaustion.  My legs were killing me from all of the walking and standing, as aside from in a cafe we stopped in, we had been on our feet walking or queuing all day. Evening quickly rolled by as we rested, and we were soon out and about again,  this time headed by train to Prater, which is like a fairground which is open all year around. We thought we’d better eat dinner first, and so stopped into a restaurant along the way,  where I had an unimpressive looking,  but good tasting Lamb Ragout with croquettes.

The parts of prater which were open were fairly small,  with half of the park turned off and in darkness, I couldn’t help but think of that ‘now this is a ghost town’  quote from call of duty as we looked around the off section. More towards the north side,  things were more alive, with shops selling snacks and mulled wine and punch, and some attractions (swings and wheel) being great fun to photograph.

We thought what the hell and went on the Ferris wheel,  despite it’s very steep price of almost 10 euros per person. It was a nice ride around but on the short side for sure,  it did however let us get some nice photos from above. Things were starting to close by the time we got off the wheel, as it was close to 10pm by then,  we played around with our cameras some more before starting the journey back home.

Vienna 2016 – Day 0+1 – Stephensplatz

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Our flight and arrival was actually on the 30th, catching a 5pm flight and arriving at Vienna international Airport around 8pm. From there it took us admittedly ages to work out how to get to our airbnb accommodation, as neither of us had really researched how to get there from the airport. The Airbnb host and flat are quite nice, a little on the small side but everything we need,  I’m really not enjoying the bed covers and pillows though,  which are just kind of awful. It probably says something that on my first night I had to change the duvet covers and pillowcase before even attempting to sleep, and then opting to instead get rid of the pillow and throw some towels in a pillowcase.

We went out to try and find some late night food but really struggled to find anywhere open, we ended up just grabbing some schnitzel and chips in a box from some kebab shop, then on the way back it started snowing like crazy, it didn’t settle or last long though sadly.

 

 

Our first proper day in Vienna was spent wandering the city centre around Stephensplatz, we are two trains away from central central Vienna. The main streets of the city itself being very fancy and clean, with some very impressive architecture on even mundane shops and buildings. We were almost immediately harassed to buy concert tickets as soon as we left the station and almost bit. We spent ages trying to find somewhere to eat lunch, before eventually failing and just settling for some bratwurst in bun.

From here we’d wander aimlessly around, and stumble upon Stephensplatz, St Stephen’s Cathedral, St Peter’s Church, Ruprechts Church and Freyung Christmas Market. With ample wandering and nibbling between. St Stephens and St Peters were very impressive to look at, with Stephens being absolutely gigantic (and in the middle of service) and St Peters being adorned in incredible amounts of gold, it was almost overwhelming to look at.

The weather here is absolutely freezing, I’m wearing 3 layers, hat and gloves and it’s still so cold, and the streets are so wide that there is basically nowhere to hide. The main streets around Stephensplatz also seem to be their equivalent of bond street, filled with designer shops and jewellery showrooms. Freyung Christmas market was quite nice, though it was somewhere disappointing after visiting the ridiculous markets of Nuremberg Germany –  I guess I’ve been spoiled.

Dinner was some traditional schnitzel –  the local favorite dish, it was nice though I guess a bit underwhelming, being a little bit similar to a gigantic chicken nugget really. Back to the flat afterwards to try and better plan the rest of our stay in Vienna.

Life – November 2016

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Hey guys, remember when I said I was going to try and blog once per week?

ahahahahahaha.

 

The past month has been a really steady routine of going to work and then coming home to eat and smash out some video games. In rather typical fashion I went from basically nothing to play to all of a sudden just too many things to play. I was already pretty hooked on Battlerite but then last week there was a free weekend for Rainbow Six Siege, I gave that a bit of a go with uni friend Ed and I think both of us were just completely sucked in from the start.

R6 Siege to me just feels like Counter Strike 2, it takes a bunch of the innovations that counter strike made – the ability to shoot through walls and light materials, multiple entry points, a 1 life per round system, no healing, tactical smokes and flashbangs, and an asymetrical map – and just really combines it all together with the modern tropes we’ve come to expect like exp/money, cosmetics, gadgets, perks and so on. The wall breaching stuff really makes it so that there is never a defined expectation and you’ll very rarely find yourself in exactly the same clusterfuck mess twice – as enemies can breach and shoot through most major areas.

And then, at long last, tomorrow we have Planet Coaster coming out, which i’ve been eagerly awaiting for months.The launch trailer looks super awesome and I really cannot wait to sink my teeth into this one. I feel a bit sorry for the girlfriend who is inevitably going to be completely ignored this weekend.

 

I’ve started trying to do a bit of christmas shopping, but as usual i’m throwing up some blanks already and am not sure what to get for people. I’ve grabbed gifts for my brother and father already, but typically all of the women are going to be harder to shop for.

Perhaps i’ll find something in Austria or Prague when I go? It’s shocking to think that my holiday is only 2 weeks away now, and will technically be my third holiday of the year and 4th consecutive one with the gf. I’m surprised she isn’t fed up of me by now. That said, I’ve only managed to do small cheap european holidays this year, changing jobs mid way through the year didn’t really help as I didn’t have sufficient leave to book anything long. My leave refreshes on new years though, and I think we’ll be looking at maybe Taiwan as a destination? Given that it’s been almost 5 years now, maybe Japan is due a revisit soon as well? Not sure i’d do central tokyo again next time though, as there’s just so much to see in this world, and so little time to see it all!

Analysing Battlerite

posted in: Games, Highlights | 0

So I’ve been playing Battlerite for the last 2 weeks or so, and I have to say, I’ve been really impressed by it.

Unlike some other games where I spend my non-playing downtime thinking about what the hell the developers were thinking, Battlerite has a really shocking amount of fantastic design choices, and I wanted to talk about some of them.

You are always left side

Through some crazy wizardry, Battlerite has you always spawn from the left. Your enemies will always run at you from the right. I’m guessing it does this through some mirroring and client side magic but god is it cool. The maps are, of course, completely symmetrical.

You only get coins for winning

I’m guessing this is primarily to combat botting or any form of ‘cant be bothered’ attitude. If you don’t win, you won’t get any money. This effectively rules out most bots or any form of AFKing or low effort game joins, as they are essentially pointless.

Maximum health, and fulfilling the counterplay trifecta

Your maximum health can only ever be +X from your current health. What does this actually mean? Say you start at 200hp and take 20dmg, your max hp is still 200 and you can be healed to full, if you were to take 80 damage, your maxhp will drop to 150ish.
So why is this particularly clever? Because similar to other MOBA’s where you particular playstyles have counters, they exist in Battlerite as well. Heal beats poke, Burst beats heal, and poke beats burst (usually).
It also means people can’t whore 3 support/healer teams, which is nice.

Chat is disabled by default

Because nobody really needs to get called a retard.

3v3 Matchmaking tries to give a balanced team comp

Playing solo, about 90% of the time you’ll get matched into a team with 1 support, 1 melee and 1 ranged. Which you would think is just common sense, but other games have shown us otherwise.

Everything is as obvious as possible

All the big damage spells have obvious casting animations and noises, all the buffs and debuffs are obvious. This basically means you always have the opportunity to counterplay.

No shared vision

Holy shit the jukes. 1vs3? still not impossible.

The centre orb keeps the action where it needs to be

Essentially king of the hill all the time, the orb in the middle provides massive benefits and basically keeps the action in the centre.

 

Battlerites let people play how they want, diversifying the champions they have by 2 or 3

The perks system is fantastic. You want a damage support? You want a super slippery Ranged? The battlerites provide plenty of choices, and mostly none of them are wrong.

 

As an aside, The community is surprisingly nice, and everyone seems to acknowledge that if you lose, it’s almost certainly because you got outplayed. Even the few times we’ve seen people leave or AFK, the games have mostly descended into ‘1v1 me’.

Whilst it may be on the expensive side for what will eventually be a free to play game, it’s so much fun.

 

 

 

Belfast – Day 3+4 – Prison and city

posted in: Belfast 2016, holiday | 0

Nice relaxed start today with a lay-in. After some breakfast we’d head to Crumlin Road Gaol, a ‘recently’ (20 years) shut down prison, a large 4 wing prison which used to house some 1500 prisoners – men, women and children.

The interior of the prison is tour only, and included a talk and tour around a cell block, holding cells, admin offices, the yards and even the execution chamber.
The prison was well maintained (moreso than the courthouse opposite), it was pretty fascinating to see the internal workings and hear some of the stories from the prison. The execution chamber in particular was very ominous and apparently had a genuine noose.

After returning from the prison, we went for lunch at the large pub we passed by the other day. A decent if only slightly above average roast chicken and chips meal.

We’d spend most the rest of the day just kind of wandering around Belfast city and trying to find some souviners to take home etc. I don’t think we really found too much else, we stopped in a pub for a drink whilst wandering around, and eventually headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit before going to find food.

Dinner was at a nice little restaurant not too far from our hotel called Havana Bank Square, I had a lovely Hake, bacon and mash meal.

 

~~~~~

 

Day 4

We really didn’t have much to do by the time day 4 rolled around, we just kind of relaxed until about midday and then went out to one of the higher rated pubs in Belfast central. We had a beer and their Irish Stew for lunch which was super thick and hearty – filled with potatoes and meat. The pub itself was really cute and welcoming, with the bar lady treating us like regulars even though we most definitely aren’t (and I was probably the only Chinese person to step foot in the bar all year).

Afterwards, we walked around castle court shopping centre for a little bit afterwards, before heading to City hall for the free tour (Free tours run at 11, 2pm and 3pm). The tour guide and explanations were a little boring, but there was definitely some interesting rooms and history behind the building, especially the stained glass in the atrium.

Not a whole lot else happened after that, we’d eventually head back to the hotel to grab our bags, and then catch the bus to the airport. Belfast departures was hilariously overstaffed compared to the amount of passengers, I think there were more staff than travellers around the bag check, which would explain why everybody got thoroughly searched. I lost a jar of Bushmills whiskey marmalade because apparently it’s considered a liquid :(
The plane was delayed, and by the time we got home it was around 11pm, which is absolutely shocking considering we arrived at the airport around 5pm.

 

Belfast – Day 2 – Game of Thrones and Giants Causeway

posted in: Belfast 2016, holiday | 0

Bit of a rough night’s sleep, with the drunks of Ireland seemingly having a street party directly outside or window. Premier Inn do a ‘get a good night’s sleep or your money back’ thing so have written in to their customer service team to see if we can get that £120 waived, which would help me be less bitter about it.

But on to the day ahead.

The Game of Thrones Tour, hosted by Irish Tour Tickets, our expected highlight featuring a bunch of stops at some Got filming locations as well as stunning natural wonder ‘Giants Causeway’, also known as ‘that place with lots of hexagonal rock columns’.

Our tour started a bit rough, with the tour bus being a little bit late and then the weather being absolutely shocking. They dropped us off Carrickfergus Castle and we were literally just blasted by wind and rain as we tried to take photos, I imagine all of my photos here are just going to be filled with rain on lens, but I haven’t reviewed the photos yet so who knows.

We would journey onward to see some Got scene related stuff, the outside of the filming studios, the production office, one of the spots where Arya climbs out of the water after being stabbed in one of the recent seasons, we saw some of Castle Black in the distance, along with The wall, Theeon Greyjoy’s castle, and some of the iron Isles, and one of the caves where the red lady gives birth.

Cushendun Caves which had some really impressive rock formations and cliffs, and next stop Carrick-A-Rede featured a beautiful walk near the Iron Isles and a rope bridge across a 100ft gorge. The weather was kind of on and off, the majority of the day was rain and storm weather, however on occasion the sun would peak out and bless us with some blue skies – you can see them in a lot of the carrick-a-rede pictures.

A silver lining to the erratic weather is the amount of rainbows we saw today, literally more today than I’ve see in the last 5 years or so in London, double rainbows a-plenty too.

Giant’s Causeway was our penultimate stop, with a 15 minute walk down to the coast and then an incredible view of the scenic wonder that it is. The actual causeway goes on for quite a stretch and you are able to freely walk upon it. Our tour guide told us the legend of how it was formed and it was fairly amusing,  give it a read yourself if you are interested. The location was unfortunately a little bit busy, making it hard to get good photos, the sky didn’t really help us much here either.

Last stop on the tour was the Dark Hedges, apparently featured in one of the game of Thrones episodes, this was a long road (closed off to vehicles today due to the recent filming of the latest transformers film apparently) surrounded by some incredible twisting trees. The rain was very heavy at this stop, and sods law, the rain died down and the sun appeared just as we were finishing and got back on the bus.

Quickie nap on the bus, and before I knew it, we were back in Belfast. We stopped off at City Hall to take some night shots (beautiful building, and fantastically lit at night).

Dinner was at the previously reservations only ‘Blu’ near our hotel. We actually stopped by here yesterday night but was turned away as they were fully booked, so we booked a table for today –  though we didn’t need to at all because it was absolutely dead. 1 other table during our meal, the restaurant was chilled and w had almost dedicated service from the waiter. The food was amazing and at a good price too, with 3 delicious courses for £20.

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