Well, it’s been a pretty hectic few weeks lately, so this post is pretty much a catch-up on stuff and, indeed, things.

London

A couple of weeks ago I headed down to London for a weekend, staying with Dom and Racquel. I travelled down on the Friday evening after work, arriving in London at around 8.30pm. We headed to Black and Blue at Borough Markets, where we went on my last visit. Good steak and good wine; though less than on my previous trip.

On Saturday morning we headed to the shops. The family were buying my mum a Wii and Wii Fit for her birthday, but sourcing one – and getting it delivered to a location where people would be to receive it – was a trial. They only seemed to want to deliver to places where cards were registered (due to supply limitations, allegedly, or value of the product). However, I trusted that London would supply, and London did. Both Game and HMV had ample supply, both boasting having recently received stock – so all was good. We then ate lunch at a pub next to the Thames a short walk from Dom and Racquel’s apartment.

Saturday evening we went to the Noel Coward Theatre to watch Avenue Q; an adult-themed musical take on Sesame Street. Loved it, as have friends who’ve also been to see it this weekend. That finished fairly late, but we found an Off Licence on the way back and – thanks to the iPhone (which also proved useful when we couldn’t find the comedy club last time I went) we found a Kebab house near to the apartment. The best way to end an evening. Maybe. 😉

Sunday we headed out to the Natural History Museum. We hoped to see the Darwin exhibition, but unfortunately that was fully booked, so we just made our way around the free exhibits until they finally kicked everybody out at closing. It’s been years since I last went so it was great to have a look around – though the Dinosaur section was very busy. I wouldn’t like to have to go round there during holiday season!

The day was rounded of with a meal at an Italian restaurant next to a chippy called ‘Fishcoteque’, followed by watching The Dark Knight at IMAX – my third cinema viewing of that film, and second time watching it at IMAX. Still love it – and was excited to see the Watchmen trailer that played before it.

Monday I headed back to sunny Rochdale and – as posted previously – picked up my new car on the way back.  Tuesday I went to my parents to drop off the Wii for my mum, show them my new car, and eat pancakes.

Hectic

Last weekend was of course documented too – with the visit to Chester Zoo. The past week has seemed pretty hectic – with the pub quiz on Tuesday, Wednesday admittedly spent playing Killzone 2 on PS3 until having an early night then Thursday playing football and watching film trailers while recovering from the first game I’ve had in a few weeks. Friday however…

Watchmen

It’s awesome – I loved it and didn’t feel a bit let down, which given the potential for Hollywood to screw up comic-book based films, was a major concern. I’ve not long since read the graphic novel and, inevitably, there are changes – but it’s very loyal to the source material and preserves the characters and themes very well. A lot of the scenes in the film conjured the same feelings I had when reading the original; especially with the portrayal of Rorschach – a character that by all rights deserves no sympathy, yet manages to garner it anyhow. I obviously won’t go in to too much detail for those who will be seeing Watchmen without any prior knowledge at all – I wouldn’t want to ruin what is a very good film. What I would say though, for those who are new to it, is that it does take a little while to get going; but that’s necessary for how the plot develops.

We watched the film at Cineworld in Ashton in the VIP box thing they have there; definitely something we’ll be doing again. It seated eight people, so we had the entire thing to ourselves with our own volume controls soundproofed to the rest of the theatre. We got popcorn and nachos thrown in for the deal too – which ain’t bad considering it only cost £10.50 each. Given the price of normal cinema tickets, food and the uncomfortable chairs you’d usually get (especially for people of my height), it’s a bargain.

The film finished fairly late, so we headed home straight afterwards and I went to bed to prepare myself for Saturday.

Paintball

Saturday there was an event organised by Green team in Support, with a few others across Support and Customer Services attending. We went to Go Ballistic just outside of Halifax. There were 20 of us, but unfortunately we didn’t get exclusivity on the venue – so the game ended up with probably close to 20 per side, which was disappointing. Overall we won’t be using the place again, as we had some issues with it. First off the lack of exclusivity, despite claiming we would get it. Secondly, the games were overloaded with people – there were just too many to make it work properly and that propelled the costs up a lot for people who bought extra balls (I decided that the £70 I’d paid was plenty enough, as did a few others – so finished early). This was only made worse by the fact that arm and leg shots didn’t count, so you could easily shield your body to avoid hits. I personally didn’t have a single paintball burst on my torso – so technically wasn’t out in any games (though did walk off the battlefield figuring I *must* have been hit as I thought I felt plenty get me). Naturally given you can shield a lot of your body with your arms and legs this basically means people are wasting ammo on your own personal mobile shield. Nice little earner they’ve got themselves there, but it’s put us of going to that place again.

After paintball we headed home and after showers a few of us went to the Baum in Rochdale for beer and food. I had a suet-based food bonanza, indulging in Rag Pudding (beef in gravy in a suet pastry) followed by Bramley Suet Apple Pie. This was accompanied by a variety of alcoholic beverages which is something the Baum excels at. I started with a Leffe, then a Pear Cider (Koppa-something, I can’t remember exactly), a Kriek, then a couple of guest Belgian beers – St Bernadus and Corsendonk. After that it was home and an early night after the day’s exertion and the natural effects of suet feasts combined with alcohol.

Level-up (Killzone 2)

Sunday I woke around 10am, put some washing on and powered up the PS3 for a bit of Killzone 2, pending some decisions on what people were up to for Sunday lunch. I’m enjoying Killzone 2, and generally playing on the PS3, a he moment – last weekend I completed Call of Duty 4, which has to be the first game I’ve completed since probably Dawn of War. I generally fail to get round to playing a game beyond a level or two. The main problem with Killzone 2 though is the need to level-up before getting access to roles which, in other FPS-type games, are kind of taken for granted from the beginning. For example, I’ve gone up three ranks and still can’t become a medic. As I’m playing on servers with people of comparable level nobody else is a medic too, so you rarely get to recover from being ‘mortally wounded’ and nobody is leaving handy health packs around to keep you in the game without having to respawn. So, this slows down the speed at which you can get to the higher levels in the first place. I do somewhat resent having to put hours in to playing the crippled version of the game before being able to play it properly. There is a reason why I quit World of Warcraft, thanks!

I also played PES 2009 for a bit and shouted at the telly that “I didn’t point that way so why did you pass it THERE!”
I have omitted the expletives.

A plan was formulated and we headed to what we believed to be called the “Red Barn” on Broadway, Oldham, for carvery. Alas it had been turned in to an Italian restaurant called Ancora. They did do a Sunday lunch though, for a reasonable £11 for three-courses which everybody apart from me opted for. I went for the deep fried calamari followed by Spaghetti with meatballs. It was nice, nothing amazing, but the price was pretty reasonable. As I seemed to be on an indulgent streak this weekend I followed it with a Hot Chocolate Pudding. Om nom nom.

I finished the day by watching Burn after Reading, which I recommend.

Bruised

Back to work today of course followed by five-a-side football with colleagues. I picked up a bruise worse than the tiddly things I got at paintball, thanks to Carl doing his usual light-speed dash into the space I was already occupying. Slightly less dramatic than his last major collision with me a couple of months ago (which saw me spinning and landing on my shoulder, leaving my arm tingling for about an hour afterward – my shot went a foot wide, so closer than usual). My leg is sore with it too, but hopefully it’ll be working sufficiently for monthly bowling tournament after work tomorrow. If not I guess I should head to the pub quiz early.

Catch-up

After tomorrow I just have football on Thursday so I guess I should do some catch-up in other areas on Wednesday. An e-mail thread I had ongoing went inexplicably dead about a month ago so I should get on with looking again. I’ve also neglected my photography and haven’t taken a 365 for more than a week. I don’t know whether to do a mammoth catch-up session, or just give up on the self-portrait idea. I was never a big fan of taking pictures of myself and wished I had opted for a ‘photo a day’ 365 instead of a ‘self portrait a day’. What I might do is jot down the Flickr Group Roulette themes for the days I’ve missed (I do have pics from events, iPhone, etc that will count for some of the fills) and see whether I can work out some catch-up self-portraits, or maybe get some suggestions from friends on Twitter/Facebook and that wonder called ‘real life’ I spend most of my time attempting to avoid.

Maybe.