Saturday, 20 May 2017

Linkin Park- One More Light

I'm a huge Linkin Park fan and have all their albums and have to say that, so far, I've enjoyed every one of them (well, the remixes on reanimated aren't so great but that's not a 'real' album is it).  Even A Thousand Suns, which many people didn't like, I found fantastic.  I loved the experimental style, the dialogue between tracks and the mix of light rock and the heavier Linkin Park style.  Different, but a really good album.

I received my copy of One More Light yesterday and whilst out on my walk today, I decided to give it a listen.  I can honestly say I was very, very disappointed.  I'm all for bands growing, improving and changing but this really is a major change.  If it wasn't for the recognition of the voices, I would never have said this was Linkin Park had I heard it playing somewhere else.  Sorry Linkin Park, but it really is poor.

With the exception of Heavy - which I quite like as a pop song - there is nothing I would choose to listen to again.  I thought that there was hope when Battle Symphony started but that quickly drained away.  Invisible, along with Heavy, are probably the two best songs on the album.  

I really hoped that the hype was wrong but sadly, on this occasion, it seems to be the case.  The first Linkin Park album that has been a real disappointment.

Friday, 19 May 2017

All Time Low

Yes, more music I've fallen in love with. This time it's All Time Low. This is their latest track but I have to say I love the albums Future Hearts and Nothing Personal.  Go listen if you've not heard of them before (or listen again if you have!).  

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Skiing and Flying (or walking)

Not out on the slopes, or throwing ourselves out of aircraft, but down at iFly and Skiplex in  Basingstoke again.  This time I went along. I can safely say I have zero flying ability.  I thought I wasn't too bad but this flight showed me I was.  I simply couldn't 'relax' enough to get any height. Oh well.

S was practising her walking in the tunnel this time, which she really enjoyed.  She had a high fly too.  The video of the instructor showing her how to run at the end was very funny.

J was awesome.  That girl really can fly!  She was practising turn round and moving forwards/backwards, up/down this time.  She's got it! 

N wasn't feeling great (and being her fairly usual grumpy self) and decided she didn't want to go skiing, so when S had finished flying, she had her first ever skiing lesson.  How is it that children just seem able to do these things without too much thought about it?

I decided not to book again this time as we're off on holiday soon and probably won't be coming back for a couple of months.  I know it's less cost effective to book afterwards online (more money and less flying time) but that't the way it works sometimes.  Shame they only give you 'on the day' options to get the flights for £29.99 each for 4 minutes.  It's a lot of pressure to do it there and then.  Come on iFly - we've been flying a while now. Surely you can offer better return flyer options than £39.99 for 2 minutes!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Virgin Holidays - Pick a price, any price

I'm fuming today.  We are off on holiday with Virgin Holidays soon and decided we wanted to upgrade our room. I phoned them up to confirm they had an upgrade room available - check - and got a price of £552 to do so - check.

Now, unfortunately Virgin have had to move our hotel due to the original one we booked not having balconies suitable for children.  Not an issue as the new one is very nice as well.  However, upgrading then isn't a simple task as it has to go through some other department.  So, after explaining this to me, I wanted for 'Anthony' to call me back.  I originally called at 9.20 this morning so by around 1.45 I called again.  The agent who answered said he was waiting for the department to get back to him.  Around 2.30pm he called.  They could upgrade me fine but the price had now gone up to £980!  WTF?

I queried this - as any sane person would - and was informed by Anthony that this was the price that they intermediary could get the room for.  I began to get irritated. How could he give me a price this morning of £552 and then come back to me with something close to DOUBLE this afternoon?  He said that was the price.  I informed him I'd spoken to the hotel directly and could upgrade for US$640 so where did they get that price from.  He said it was the price they were given. 

I asked for it to be queried. Apparently it had been. 

I asked for the price he gave me this morning to be honoured.  He could not do this.

I asked to speak to the department who were sorting this. I could not as they do not take calls from the public.

What a joke!  When we first had to move hotels, we asked about an upgrade.  We were told then it was £480.  We decided against it.  So today, to be told £552 - with changes in exchange rates - I found quite acceptable.   But this last figure of £980 was farcical!  

I queried whether they are now trying to recoup the money they have had to pay in moving us to a more expensive hotel - with balconies safe for children?  Anthony informs me that was not the case as the discount we got was still on there. Something here is very, very fishy!

So, Virgin Holidays, what the hell are you playing at?  Why do your staff give a quoted amount and then you do not honour it?  Do you allow your staff/departments to pluck random figures out of the air?  Really?  I think not!  So, come on, I'd love to know how the price jumped to this in a few hours!  Where's you mojo in sorting this out Virgin?

Black Veil Brides - In the End

I'm on a roll today. Another group I've discovered that you may like.  Adore these guys. If you listen to Kerrang, you'll hear a lot of this type of music.

I will also admit to having a little bit of a crush on the lead singer, Andy Biersack *grin*

Falling in Reverse - Loser

I love this song so much, I had to share it.  *Explicit language/lyrics alert*

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Chiropractor helping migraines

You may recall that migraines have become a permanent feature of my life in the past 18 months or so (Merina coil issues, continuing migraines, and the migraines are back posts to name but a few).  Having had a particularly nasty one around 5 weeks ago, during which I took almost 20 tablets in the day to try and stop it - Imigran, Codeine, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Metoclopramide - I was feeling a bit stressed out and, despite the migraine finally subsiding, I had a 'chemical headache' for 2 days afterwards.  Not  surprising given the amount of tablets I had to take.  

My teen, J, was rather worried about this and was looking up migraine treatments.  We'd already discovered the ear piercing but it wasn't something I was keen on as I'd also read an equal number of negative comments about it's effectiveness.  She came across a study of the benefits of seeing a chiropractor for migraines.  This is something I'd not considered before.  However, it seemed a good option and I decided to go for it.

I looked up a local chiropractor - Mark Walles - based in Woking and booked to see him.  I honestly wasn't sure it whether it would help, but having had as many migraines as I had (and was having), I was fully prepared to give it a shot.  After all, anything that cuts down the migraines or means I have to take less tablets has to be good right?

Image  credit: Mark Walles Chiropractic
I had my first session with Mark 4 weeks ago.  I completed a form to tell him all about my medical history and the problems I was having.  He asked lots of questions and felt that he could help, explaining the often the cause of the migraine was from misalignment of the spine and therefore the nerves being pressed upon. My neck was really tight and stiff when he assessed it.

It also appears that my lower back was out of alignment - most likely from my riding accident donkey's (or should that be 'horses') years ago.  He popped that back in, which felt much better (but afterwards like I'd been kicked in the back for a few days!).

Mark did some work on my neck to relax the muscles and tendons and then kind of manipulated it back into position. The creaking and cracking in my head was quite bizarre! However, I did feel like my neck was less tense afterwards.

I've seen Mark twice a week now and can honestly say my shoulders feel more relaxed and my neck less stiff. I certainly don't creak (as much) when I turn my head left and right.  It's not a miracle cure.  I have had two migraines this past fortnight, but they have been less severe and rather than focusing on my head and the pain in there when they occur, I rubbed my neck and focused on that and they eased off much faster.  I still needed some medication, but nothing like I had been taking!  Yesterday I had a migraine but only took 1 Imigran and 1 Metoclopramide tablet, and it had eased off in a few hours.  That, for me, is a real result!  

So, I believe going to Mark and undertaking some chiropractic treatments is helping a lot.  I would recommend anyone trying a chiropractor for migraines (or bad headaches), especially if you're having to take the number of tablets I was and being laid up for a day or more unable to function properly.  I appreciate it won't work for everyone, but it strikes me that doctors often focus on the symptom, not the cause.  Getting to the cause must be a good thing right?

I'll keep you posted on how I'm getting on.  

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Getting fast AP in Final Fantasy XV

I have completed Final Fantasy XV, all except for Costelmark Tower and the menace within. Having given it a go with my party as they stood (all Level 99 with 9,999 HP), I got absolutely nowhere.  Around 6 rooms in and I was dead.  Remember you can't use any of your healing items here so that's the issue.

Having had a quick scout on the Internet for suggestions as to how to defeat the daemons in this tower, I found that the best was was by using:

  1. 3 x Wind-up Lord Vexxos
  2. The ascension slot of 'Ultimate Powercraft' at 999 AP
  3. Having crafted spells of 99 of one element and 49 of another
  4. Eating Lasagna al Forno 

Well, #3 and #4 are certainly fine.  Nothing difficult there.

As for #1, that was easy. You need to go to Altissa and use the right-most arcade game which costs 10,000 Gil per game.  You'll find it where you can meet Alessio.  There is nothing difficult about playing this game, it's just a matter of patience as you need 99 gold bars (and they seem to be rewarded randomly) to obtain 1 Wind up Lord Vexxos.  That done, my biggest challenge was #3 - how to get enough AP fast!

Here's a really easy way. Head to Hammerhead and park up there.  Walk into the wasteland behind it and you'll see some Sabertusks running around.  Use your best weapon to warp-kill them all (I dropped all other parties' weapons down to their most basic to give me the best chance to kill all enemies - although even their lowest level weapons will kill in one strike).  These beasts are only Level 2 and spawn at 3 to 5 at a time.  Using the 'Summon Enemies' whistle, just stay in that spot and repeatedly call enemies. You'll end up with Sabertusks or Reapertails.  All easily despatched.   This way, in one Final Fantasy day (6am - 8pm) you can earn around 300 AP.  Back to Hammerhead and rest and do the same again for another 2 days or so and you've got your 999 AP to get this final magic ascension.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Take your child to work day

On Thursday of last week it was 'Take your child to work day' and S came with me to my workplace at university.  I work in the Careers Service (along with some teaching) and although it was a day I didn't work, I popped in for a few hours with her.

Settled her down after introducing her to everyone and she helped me get some information into a spreadsheet first of all.

Then she went and printed off some certificates I needed to do and did a bit of shredding for one of my colleagues.

Finally, she was helping with a book audit by counting each type of book in 4 different locations in the office.  It was after counting the 5th book type she came up to me and said 'I don't like doing this mummy, can we go now?'  Fair enough, but I didn't want to take her straight home so decided to show her around.

We headed down to Imagine which is a coffee shop with fun and funky furnishings. She loved trying the stuff out and her favourites were the over-sized deckchairs.

We then went into Founders Building and I took her to the library. Very busy with students studying for their upcoming exams but let her have a walk through (she got a lot of smiles).

Then we walked around the quads and headed back to the car.

She did enjoy her time but I guess it would have been better if it was a full day of my normal work.  Hopefully it will be next year.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Jack Reacher - the books

A little time ago I was looking for a good book series to read and stumbled across Lee Child's 'Jack Reacher' series of books.  It seemed logical to start at book 1 and give them a go, so I did.  I have to say they are very good.  In all honesty, I suspect they are written more with men in mind, but I really enjoy them.  The writing style, the way the chapters are set out so you see what Jack is up to and the protagonist also, just suits me down to the ground.

So far I have read:

The Killing Floor (1) 
Die Trying (2)
Tripwire (3)
The Visitor (4)
Echo Burning (5)

and am about to start Without Fail (6).  Whilst parts of some of the books are a little contradictory - one minute Jack is hugging feeling concern for a lady that has come into his life, and the next he is back to stone-cold killer - however, I don't find this lessens the pace too much.

What I do now struggle with is thinking about Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in the first film (let's not mention the second one as it was dire).  Whilst I really enjoyed the film having NOT read any of the that I know Jack is a tall, big guy (250lbs or so), Tom doesn't measure up.  Not to worry though as I now have my own mental image of Jack from the books which is good as it means, for me, the writing is strong enough to get over any preconceptions.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Winkworth Arboretum

We went over to Winkworth Arboretum today. It's a National Trust property just outside of Godalming (down some very windy roads).  We decided to give it a try having seen that dogs must be on leads at all times.  This is important to us as our two youngest really don't like dogs much and, unfortunately, not all dog owners understand that some people may not want their pet jumping or sniffing around them.  Hooray for the courteous dog owners here.

We parked up in a relatively empty car park at 10.30am and off we went.  The nice ladies in the entry kiosk gave us a map and we opted for the red route, which was the most challenging and longest one with lots of steps.  

It took us through the bluebell woods, around the meadow, past the boat house, up the azela steps (phew!) and, before we realised it, we had turned the wrong way and were heading back to the entrance. Oh well, never mind, good opportunity for cake!

Cake eaten, we headed back in to find the adventure playground. This looked brand new and the girls had some fun on it before we went back onto the red route to finish off our route.  

S took me down some more steps (suddenly realising I was going to have to go 'up' again at some point - my calves!) and into the 'bowl' before we followed it round further, up more steps to finish off the route.  Yes, we went down steps and back up again before we got back onto the flat.  I feel like I'm the stair-master now.

Back to the car and down the narrow lanes off home.  We will definitely be back - maybe with a picnic next time.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Wisley Lindt Bunny Hunt

Today we headed over to RHS Wisley with our friends to hunt for golden Lindt bunnies.  The girls enjoyed going around the gardens searching them out. I have to say, they are set up so not much 'hunting' is required - ideal for little ones then.

A bit too easy to spot?
Orchids hanging in the glasshouse
Busy noting bunny locations

At the end of the hunt, each girl received a miniature Lindt golden bunny.  Unfortunately, neither of my two like Lindt chocolate so all the more for me and hubby then *grin*.

Wisley has quite a big area sectioned off for works. They are building a new entrance. All sounds good except for one part...which seemed to imply there could be some kind of park-and-ride going to happen?  I hope they don't make the car park too small now as by 11am today, it was packed and the overflow was getting full too.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Flying and Skiiing (again)

Last Saturday we headed down to iFly in Basingstoke for another session of flying for S and J, and skiing for N.  We had a very early slot so less hanging around which is good.

N was on first and despite the fall she had last time, went for it with confidence again.  She had a fabulous 45 minutes skiing this time with a great instructor who was really encouraging but understanding that she was a bit nervous to start with. They ended up having fun on the toboggans.

The problem was S.  This was her 4th flight and she had a little tumble last time. Oddly though, the tumble was during her first flight and she brushed herself up and got on with it.  She had pushed off from the glass of the tunnel but pointed her legs down so went down onto the springy floor.  I was very impressed that she got back up, flew the rest of her turn, had her second flight with a high-fly and also asked for her 3rd. Brave girl.  However, this time, she wouldn't go in at all.  She cried and cried and refused.  I couldn't figure it out. I was trying to encourage her mouthing 'go for it' behind the glass but nothing would get her on. Such a shame and, if I'm honest, I was disappointed.  I know I shouldn't have been as she's only 8, but I got a bit cross thinking 'what a waste of money'.  J, on the other hand, had a great time.

I re-booked for J but wouldn't for S, even though she asked me to at reception and said sorry. I was cross.  Irrationally so I guess.  I felt really bad afterwards and checked she wanted to go next time with J and she said she did - if I went too!  No problem but it cost me an extra £10 to book online from home, as well as my flight!  I guess I need to be a bit more understanding. Mean mummy :(  But you know how it it when children are illogical. Sometimes, it does the same to us parents.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to our next 'family' flight.  N is skiing again next time and hubby is going to be photographer for the day.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Bird Box Camera

I'm so proud of the girls' school. They do so many cool nature things for the children from having rabbits children can take home for weekends to raising chickens.  The latest is the live feed from a bird box that was recently erected on the school grounds.  Clearly, it's in a great spot as a blue tit has claimed it as home and is busy building a nest.

The school are streaming the feed 24/7 so it's lovely to check on the little feathered friend at night too.  Here s/he is snoozing away.

I hope we see some eggs soon  The children in Year 3 classes are also trying to hatch some chicks and have incubators in their classrooms.  Will post cute, fluffy chick pictures if they succeed.