Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas! It's been a long time coming this year, even without an advent calendar to count down the days, I've noticed that it feels like December has been hanging over us for yonks, but today means that it's finally worth it.

In the hoard this year I bagged a pretty nifty lamp/alarm clock combo which lights up gradually to simulate the rising sun - it so realistic that I'll never have to leave my bedroom again! Louis gifted me a controller adapter thing for the Wii U and Smash Bros along with the first book in The Witcher series which I am enjoying at the moment. Otherwise it was your classic assortment of chocolates socks that are greatly appreciated - there are fewer things I love more than new socks! The, now infamous, Steam Link should be with me very soon too, just waiting on postage for him.

It was nice to see the reactions of the presents I bought for others this year. A recurring gift was a portable phone charger which I got for both Mum and Louis. They make excellent presents and I got each of them a charger tailored for their needs which was pretty cool. For Dad, Louis and I bought him a glasses holder in the shape of an owl which he was actually quite pleased with. Typically we always buy Dad an edible gift because he literally is the man who has everything, but with the owl I think we found a small niche - he even took a photo of it!

The day itself was spent lazing around the living room, watching telly and getting cosy by the fire. A decidedly humble Christmas day, but a good one nonetheless. Nothing quite beats spending a day with family without any immediate obligations or worries.

I'll be packing up to go to Belgium tomorrow, Louis and I will be spending the next few days out there to see friends and celebrate the run-up to New Year. Hope that everyone had as good a Christmas as I did, if not better! It hardly feels real when it is finally the big day, but I wouldn't change anything about it.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas Eve 2015

Had a successful dash into town for an emergency present for Louis today and I know he is going to be a little confused tomorrow. Think I smashed it though. Helped out a bit in getting ready for our annual Christmas Eve party too, tried making a thousand island dip (which turned out pretty good) and also attempted construction of a gingerbread house which fell to pieces. urns out we used the wrong icing so unfortunately we couldn't use it as our centerpiece. But the party went off without a hitch and once again it was lovely to see a lot of familiar faces around this brilliant time of year. 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Heavy Turkey?

Woke up to an emergency set of instructions. I had to dash into town with Louis to pick up the Christmas turkey and tidy up the house pretty sharpish. The tidying was fine, waking Louis up was a little tougher but in the end, we didn't really need him. Dad framed the turkey to be this colossal mass of meat that would need two grown men to carry back home. In reality, the bird was lighter than what I'm used to carrying to uni on a regular basis.

Grandparents came down as I was chopping wood for the fire. Cutting down larger blocks of wood into smaller bits certainly gets me some man points, although it was a lot harder to do than I originally expected - my fire-making skills certainly need work.

I also discovered that I have managed to purchase a present for Louis that he already owns. Turns out his girlfriend bought it for him for his Birthday so I felt like a right muppet. Luckily I think I can still get him something in time for Christmas.

Bro Time before Christmas Time

Waved goodbye to Rebecca who headed back home for Christmas on board a National Express coach. Little sad to see her off but this meant I had a whole day free to catch-up with Louis and get some serious games in. Between us we are working up for our self-made Smash Bros tournament that is coming round on the 2nd of January. Hopefully we can keep the trophies that we won in Summer, but maybe, just maybe, we will have to pass that trophy onto a more deserving set of players.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Game UK is Awful

Met up with on of Rebecca's old housemates in a nearby pub today. He's doing his placement year in our neck of the woods so he wanted to meet up since Rebecca. Since we were out and about at that point it seemed like a golden opportunity to do some last minute Christmas shopping! Picked up about 90% of my list now with the last bits to get courtesy of Amazon Prime. I would have even grabbed a Christmas present Dad needed to buy for myself (am Steam Link) from Game, but instead I found them to be massively disappointing once again.  

On arrival, things looked moderately positive, the guy was helpful and even said he had a Steam Link in the back of the shop. I waited a bit and they didn't have one, which was fine because I didn't expect to grab one there and then, it was a pre-order jobbie so all was well. Then they couldn't find it on the system for pre-order and a more senior member of staff came over to help. Bear in mind this guy was in his 30's and seemingly carried around a multitude of gaming knowledge with him, he had no idea what a Steam Link was. He then asked me to tell him what it was and I could see his eyes crusting over as if he was dealing with another trashy customer who didn't know anything about the field. I expect he thought I made it up.

It was just hugely embarrassing because he should have known what my product was. If anyone even remotely has an interest in gaming news and technology, the Steam Link is a modern and anticipated bit of hardware. Game UK also have exclusive rights for high street distribution of the Steam Link. If you visit the Steam store online they cite Game as the only place you can pre-order and collect it from in the UK so it's baffling to think that a senior member of staff had no clue what I was talking about, when the company he works for is the only place in the UK where you can speak to someone face-to-face about pre-ordering one.

Game has just let me down on so many occasions now, mostly thanks to their dreadful customer service. Employees just seem to think they can get away with being elitist because they believe they know more about gaming than their customers just because they wear a purple badge. I truly think I have spent my last bit of money there just so I don't put more money into a company that treats is customers like a nuisance.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Just Cause 3 Review

Got a brilliant breakfast courtesy of Mark and Lucy to start me off today, it even kept me full up during a brief stint of traffic coming back from Bristol with Louis who is finally back for the holidays. This means we also got the chance to decorate the tree which is looking as festive as ever, lighting up our living room during The Apprentice final.

My review for Just Cause 3 has also been published on Nerve Online and you can check it out here. This is a bit of writing that I am actually extremely pleased with and something that I genuinely enjoyed writing.   

Bristol and Turkey

Caught the train to Bristol with a very tired girlfriend and Dan by my side but the resulting day was worth breeching the early morning for. Arriving at Mark and Lucy's we were treated to a Christmas style lunch with some light games, we the headed to the Christmas market and got a few pints in a cosy little pub. Then it was back to theirs for a grand Xmas dinner and chill session - I feel like I have more in common with a bowling ball than a human after eating all the turkey - just stretching my stomuch for the main act in a few days.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Sci-Fi Tabletop

Cracked on with a bit more of the old dissertation. I really feel like my research has pushed me to make some very original points on the topic, I'm just very grateful for how niche my topic is and that makes any observation I find seem quite credible. Rounded off the evening by investing some time in Louis' new sci-fi tabletop adventure game. It's basically Dungeons and Dragons, but in space. We are currently in the process of making a captain of our spaceship that has a really tragic character arc that lead him to become a misunderstood chef and mercenary. Hoping we can play a bit more of it once Louis finally gets home for Christmas

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Scaredy Cat

I did that classic, social introvert thing today where someone new came into the house and I tried my best to hide from them. Which basically involved me sitting up in my room with the door closed listening out for when the coast was clear. At least I had the Smash Brothers DLC to keep me occupied. That and my dissertation...

Thrusted myself head-first into doing my Just Cause 3 review this evening and I actually surprised myself with how quickly and efficiently I wrote it. Shot it off to my editor with hopes of hearing feedback in the morning - hopefully the writing is good enough to warrant handing over a £50 to me for. Hopefully there will be a few more of those in the future!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Dem Eggs

Decided to really get into the mindset of my dissertation and food porn in general, so I went out of my way to make a really delicious looking breakfast and put it up on social media. This means that you lucky readers will get to see my poached eggs as well!

Ah yeah! Just look at that gooey yolk! Very please with this being my first Instagram post to encompass the qualities of my dissertation subject - the filter helped a whole lot to make it look more rustic than it actually is.

Tried my hardest to get into the nitty gritty of my diss when I came to a realisation quite early on: Starting to write a 10,000 essay is pretty dang hard. So far I've just got a handful of points with a vauge argument next to it, but you gotta crawl before you walk. I know what I ave to communicate, it's just a little tough getting it down on paper in a coherent manner.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Dissertation Push Season Commence!

Kickstarted my dissertation productivity season with a bit more reading. I bought back 12 library books with me, all related to the topic of food, psychology and culture. Managed to tick 9 of them off my list leaving only a smattering to get through tomorrow. I am currently harnessing their knowledge and putting it down in a 'brain jar' of a word document where I pit the more interesting quotes up against other quotes to mesh together a conclusion. I even came up with an appropriate springboard for how to end my dissertation today so I think I had a very productive session.  My leisurely reading quickly turned into a more frenzied one after I remembered I had to submit a draft part of a chapter to my tutor by Wednesday morning for a Skype tutorial. Hoping to get at least 500 more words sussed along with a plan tomorrow which is totally achievable. Now that I have done the reading, the writing should be a doddle - guess I should have done all my essays like this... 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Newbury Living Room

Poached a few eggs and then it was back home to Newbury. Got up at the crack of dawn to get ready for moving out as I had a small bit of packing left to do. Didn't help that my left eye crusted over in the night either, literally had to pry it open after gently clawing away the excess sleep dust which was an interesting experience. Being back home is great though, it's lovely to see the living room now that your xmas tree is up too, above all else, our living room gets me in the festive mood. Preparing myself for a slightly chilly night now that I don't have central heating, I am also sleeping alongside the corpses of half a dozen wasps which is fun. Hope more don't come to avenge their fallen brothers.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

A Farewell to the Gaff

Said my farewells to all my housemates as they went home, one by one. I've been left home alone for a little while now and I actually really like being all by myself sometimes. I can be as loud as I want and I have very little social obligations to fulfill. I know that makes me sound horrendously introverted, but sometimes I do just like a bit of me time when it really is only me around. I'm moving out tomorrow morning though so I spent the remainder of the day packing up and heading to the library to collect a handful of books for my dissertation. Be a little sad to leave the Bournemouth gaff, but it'll be great to get back home for a wee bit.

Moist Eyes

My eyes were in a permanent state of watering today. From the moment I woke up to the moment I write this, my left eye especially has been running constantly. Can't touch it though, as that will my my eyelids more soar than they already are - now I understand the effectiveness of water torture. To counter this affliction though, I got to play through a lot of Just Cause 3 today after scoring a review copy for the student magazine. All I have to do is a short write up for it and I get to keep a game worth over £40, I could certainly get used to this life.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

First Xmas Dinner Cooked!

Amidst a day of firsts, I can happily say I learned some valuable life skills. The most important of which being: learning how to cook a Christmas dinner/prepare a roast. Never before had I made roast potatoes, cooked a large bird or carved a large bird. All of which I did today and it was great. I was set up as the head chef for our xmas dinner and we smashed it. Rebecca came along to help cook (and eat) our amazing dinner which ended with a sentimental toast and a pukka secret Santa offering. My 'victim' actually got a rather good present. At first I mugged him off by presenting him with a beautifully wrapped collection of milk, ketchup and shower gel, AKA, all the stuff he steals from us. H looked a bit put out with all of that though so I whipped out my copy of Call of Duty for him and that really perked him back up. I got a copy of Batman: The Killing Joke which I am very eager to read! We have all eaten and drunk a lot so now it is just about time for me to get to bed. I've had a rehearsal for xmas dinner so I say, bring on the real thing!

JUMP into Christmas 2015

Landed in the sound booth of the uni's HD studio for what may be the final time. JUMP TV hosted a live streamed Christmas special as a little side project with a cherry picked crew, including myself. I did sound (naturally) and helped fade up audio of VT packages and played an audio sting between segments. We also mic'd up a whole choir for the grand finale and the whole show went off without a hitch.

In fact, it was quite possibly the best bit of live TV I've ever helped produce. It was head and shoulders better than some of the stuff we did last year - just a shame it wasn't assessed really because we would certainly get an excellent mark for it. Check it out below if you have the time, its of a very high standard for a student project!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Watery Eyes and Nose

What started off as an exceptionally mild cold yesterday has hit me hard today as it developed into something truly horrible. My nose just doesn't stop running, I don't think I've ever had it to the point that snot is actively dripping out my nose, even moments after I blew it. My eyes can't stop watering either, this combined with a sudden return of the rash on my eyelids is not doing me any favours - everytime I brush away the watery tears I have to then itch my eyes.

To make matters worse, but also funny, we had the final screening session of the semester this evening. All the while, my eyes were streaming along with my nose everytime the lights turned back on after a film. Lecturers must have thought I was very sentimental today as seemingly every film reduced me to the state of tears.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Lidl Paper

First of the Xmas wrapping today. Successfully purchased my groceries and wrapping paper at Lidl so it was a one trip wonder into the high street. Quality of the paper was faintly dubious as it wanted to fold in places where there wasn't a natural crease, but I put that down to my wrapping skills, which have become an in joke among my friends. But I got Rebecca's prezzies all sorted now and my secret Santa is all done too.

Cod and COD

Got on the cod bandwangon and treated myself to the first fish and chips of the year. Courtesy, of course of the Alma Fish and Chip bar which were cracking as usual. We also played a lot of COD tonight, team deathmatches got heated in the house as it quickly became an all or nothing affair. Had my down days now so it's right back into some serious work tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Rebecca's Xmas Bash

First Xmas dinner of the year! Moved some kitchen chairs down to Rebecca's house in order to accommodate the large number of people coning down to join in the festivities. I even tried my hand helping out in the kitchen by doing g useful things. Like trying the turkey early on, opening and closing the fridge and providing witty and insightful banter while people actually did the cooking. Had a really nice night too, lots of good conversation and champagne (someone bought 6 bottles with them - we made sure to take advantage of that situation)

Dissertation And Rap

Banged out some serious notes and planning for my dissertation on the back of some reading I did today. Will be continuing the effort tomorrow now that some momentum has built thanks to the fact I've submitted my short film. Planning in working hard again tomorrow too and keeping it going from there.

Speaking of hard work, we, as a house, filmed our rap battle video today. One gag I wrote into the rap involved me shaving my beard with some film editing. So in other words, I no longer have a beard and once again have my nice, smooth face. I couldn't actually remember what my upper lip felt like until a few hours ago, feels good to look young and be back to normal.

Homework Club (AKA Our Livingroom)

Hooray for more dissertation work. My housemates conjured up some lovely little 'living room work club' at home today so we all sat around and copied quote and chatted about our work. We actually got into some pretty interesting discussions. On of them is doing masculinity and Batman while the other is looking at the films of Nicholas Winding Refn so they are generally relatable subjects for all of us. Pitching in is always a cool thing to do since we all bounce off each-other, just good vibes all over and it really helped me begin to formulate an argument.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Rap Battle

Mail was the first thing we heard this morning, strange considering none of us at hone ordered anything. Simon walked down to pick up the small square package and found what looked like a mix CD. Upon closer inspection we saw the faces of some of the girls on our course who live down the road printed on an accompanying bit of paper next to a USB stick. The stick contained one file: a video. We clicked on it and got treated to a video of the girls throwing down the gauntlet for a rap battle. They each took it in turn to dis each of us living in Frederica (in a very tounge and cheek fashion) but now our house needs to retaliate.

Every bloke jumped straight onto their laptop and started writing bars and rhymes. I've got a huge piece on the one that dis'ed me and we are going to wreck them when we record our video tomorrow night!

The Odd Bunch

Took my beard back a little bit with the use of my housemates beard trimmer - it was my first-time using it so I had to ask for his assistance in styling and right now it looks alright, lot more manageable now. Took my new facial hair and my short film over to a screening at uni along with everyone else's short film. Mine went down very well alongside the others, which were again of a very high standard.

So I present the first Cafe Studios film in two years to be uploaded to our channel. Forgive the bars, tone and clock at the beginning. I don't have the original sequence to edit down yet but the film officially starts 30 seconds into the video - uni standard programming there. This film has been a little while in the making but I couldn't be happier with it, so I proudly present The Odd Bunch.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

No Shave Novermber 2015!

And now for the update on the beard, as documented over the past month. I present to you, the final photo of beard development throughout a very informative 30 days.

Very pleased with this level of growth. A few years after doing my first 'No Shave November' I had always intended on revisiting the challenge just to see how well I could fees-ably grow a beard. However I always had some kind of naff excuse as to why I couldn't commit that year. Regardless of my excuse I was always genuinely worried that I couldn't grow a legitimate beard. 

Take a look at the me from 5 years ago to the day.

Yep... that was with 30 days growth. The-times-they-are-a-changing.

But moving away from the cringe fodder, I have the one gif that no-one has been waiting for! A time-lapse of me growing my beard compiled from every photo since posted on this blog this year:

Now that that No Shave November is out of the way we can finally begin celebrating a real cause: Christmas!
Went out today and deck the halls with all kinds of Christmas gaff, I think we did a nice job too. The tree especially really ties the room together and makes the whole venue look a lot more cosy, and its somewhere to put all our secret Santa presents.

Speaking of presents, tomorrow I will be uploading my uni short film about a man in love with an orange. Consider it an early Christmas gift from me.