Painters respite.

Now that the decorating has  wrapped up in our study, I thought I’d take a break from the paintbrushes and head out to the  Lake District for  a spot of hiking and blow the cobwebs (and plaster dust) away. Typical though, the day before my trip whilst checking my stoves and packing my gear, I started to feel the tell tale signs of incoming cold and my throat and sinuses starting to close in. Thankfully it didn’t materialise despite feeling a bit rough on the long drive up on Friday morning and felt much better as the flat landscapes started to get a little bit more exciting.

I camped at Coniston at the busy campsite at Coniston Hall. At peak season, this place is usually rammed and not my ideal spot. However, now heading into Autumn, there was only a few weekend walkers camped out on that first day. After I’d set up camp I was off for a walk to the top of The Old Man of Coniston.

Come on legs, we’ve got work to do.

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The zig zagging path after Low Water before the scramble to  the top. Levers Water can be seen just above and would be my circular route back.

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I’ve been up here a few times and when reaching the top it’s usually up in the clouds with almost zero visibility. Not so this time, the views were outstanding.

Heading out along the ridge to Swirl How before heading down and swinging around to Levers Water.

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A quick stop off at Coniston Village for a few supplies this evening.

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Much needed refreshment and surprisingly light. Referenced to the Old Man of Coniston of course, but StiGGy sure feels like an old man after that jaunt.

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Saturday morning and a trip out west to go see my mate Porchy from http://www.jammarcade.net/ . My iPhone Satnav really  got screwed up here and and decided to take me down endless narrow pony tracks across the Fells. Picturesque yes, but not so good for my poor car’s suspension. I was getting lost up here and time was slipping away from me. A bit annoying really but I had to smile when the next track on my car stereo was AC/DC’s Highway to Hell 🙂  In the end, I reverted to a good old paper map and was soon back on track and on to the tarmac bliss of the A595.

So great to see Porchy again checking out all his new toys and retro homebrew stuff.  I think the mountain air has got to me whilst larking about!

In the Matrix, I have Boobs!

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The additional motion tracking and increased screen resolution on the Oculus Rift DK2 model is simply mind blowing. Some of demos Porchy ran through were even better than I’d hoped for. VR sure has come along way since Dactyl Nightmare! I had a great time Mr P, and thanks for the loan of your DK1 and DC addons, I can’t wait to try them all out over the next few weeks.

I took the long route back to Coniston stopping at Blackstock Point and a walk around Bassenthwaite Lake before sitting next to this tree and having dinner.

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A very cold night and I awoke on Sunday morning at around 5am to get out my heavy blanket and sat happy and content in the dead silence and the thick grey morning mist. Camped just a few yards from Coniston water, I took my coffee and grabbed my camera and headed down to the waters edge.

Ghost ships.

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Sat on a large stone and watched the mist roll by.

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Coniston Hall (and camp shop) looking decidedly spooky this morning.

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A few hour later, with tent and gear packed away, the weather a stark contrast to the mornings mist I started my way up to Skiddaw after parking in Keswick.

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The path leading up to the summit is one long, steep slog but as the tops of Little Man and Skiddaw come into view, the path levels slightly and is easier on the legs.

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Keswick and Derwent Water.

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On the way back down, I happened to come across a group of Cub Scouts selling cold drinks for donations. After walking in the swelterng sunshine this was probably the best (and quickest) drink of squash I’ve ever had!

Picking up the Cumbrian Way on my way down towards Keswick and I couldn’t help myself to little Photoshop with this one.

Stay off the road!

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Further on down ans suddenly a mighty  roar from above as two Avro Lancaster Bombers flew by overhead as part of the Battle of Britain memorial flight. I just managed to whip out my iPhone to capture he last one as it flew by. A perfect end to a great weekend.

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Weekend wandering around London.

Here’s a few of the pictures I snapped during our weekend trip down into the capital.

Our itinerary was left pretty much blank, apart from the tickets we’d booked for the Pompeii exhibition at the British Museum.

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The exhibition shows a glimpse everyday life in Pompeii and Herculaneum before and after the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius. As you weave your way around the beautiful artefacts surviving the intense heat and time itself,  its a sombre affair when you reach the latter part of the exhibition and the casts of the bodies that were frozen in flash of fire.

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However….those folk sure had a good sense of humour!

I say!

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We could easily spend the entire weekend in the museums, there’s so much to see! Cursties favourite area has always been the Egyptian exhibitions and in particular the mummies on display.

I’m pretty sure this one moved a bit….wait…..it might do it again.

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Part of the museums glass roof.

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Back outside and into glorious sunshine, we headed towards Picadilly to watch the crowd go buy, browsed the shops and stalls around Covent Garden & Burlington Arcade before heading off to St James Park and to rest in the shade of the oak trees.

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Sensory overload – every little avenue and backstreet explored often revealed a surprise or two.

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I wonder if she’s given them the day off?

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As we made our way back east via the underground, we stopped by Westminster rammed with tourist, the sheer buzz of activity astounding.

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As we headed up and over Westminster Bridge towards Big Ben, the crowds along the right hand side had intensified into clusters of  groups spanning the entire length of the bridge. As it turned out, at the centre of the waving, shouting and jostling  were a string of folk operating illegal shells games…you know, the one with the three cups and a ball, mix them around and guess where the ball is. There was certainly a lot of money been exchanged between ringers, players and losers, although a little sad to see a group of pick pockets going to work on the otherwise engaged crowd though, I guess every big city has them. What was fun to see though was the speed in which game pieces, money and dealers disappeared in a sort of domino effect as a police car slowly cruised across the bridge.

Our next day was a pretty much a repeat of the previous day including a visit to the Victoria and Albert museum and plenty of shopping in Fortnum and Masons and Harrods. Here I sampled some of the latest DSLR cameras from Nikon, mused over a £140 wooden case for my iPhone (i soon came to my senses) and stood jaw gaping at demonstrations of the new OLED TV’s they had on display. The image clarity was so good it felt like you could simple reach out and grab the object on screen. One of these has to be mine one day!

VA Museum glass balloons.

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During out travels around the city, we’d spotted numerous people riding city owned bicycles and the docking stations were you could rent one from. It’s an automated service were you’d insert a few coins to receive print out containing a pin code which you would then enter on one of the docking station to release the bike. There are so many docks around it’s quite possible to cycle to your destination and drop the bike off there without having to return. What a great way to see the city…although being chased down my a London bus might not be so fun.

Weeee…three gears and a bell. Look out London.

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The company who Curstie works for has it’s head offices in Canary Wharf, so being a Sunday and probably devoid of people, we took our cycles down there and pretty much had this mini city all to ourselves. Apart from a few aircaft above, it was totally silent, like a set from a disaster movie. In little more that 12 hours later, cycling between the buildings would be a huge mistake.

Messing around with Hipstamatic.

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One day I’ll return to Canary Wharf at night with my camera gear.

 It should be noted that navigating around the hussle and bussle of of the city, be it on foot, tube  or cycle, was made so incredibly easy via the phone app – http://citymapper.com/ Not only did it advise tube stations, lines and platforms to avoid  any realtime delays, it also advised cycle routes and dock stations indicating which docks were free or full. Indispensable!

Great weekend, will be be back here again soon.

Rambling not up Mnt. Snowdon.

Well after a glorious sunny bank holiday a few weeks ago, it had all gone down hill since then and my plans to hike around Snowdon have been put on temporary  hold until the weather man says so. I don’t mind a bit of rain here and there (hail in the face for four hours..not so good)  and have spent many snug nights in the tent whilst mother nature gets whatever was bugging her, off her chest.

Here’s the webcam shot of Mnt Snowdon during that lovely bank holiday weather. Perfectly clear and a pockest of snow to to make one feel like a proper explorer.

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Same webcam on the day I going planning on setting up camp. Not too bad I guess,  but would it clear and reveal those beautiful views you get at the summit?

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That’ll be a no then.

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My backup plan was the Lakes and the area around Scarfell (or possibly Glen Coe in Scotland) but quite frankly no matter where you went, it was rain followed by rain with a side order of ‘dammit the tent floating away’. No worries though I’ll try again in another few weeks, but to get some miles the boots  I went out rambles around the Peak District.

Strolling around Hope Valley.

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Have a cuppa and not a soul for hours.

On to Jacobs Ladder

Clear blue skies ahead although behind me wasn’t looking to good. The wind was keeping it over Mam Tor and Castleton way and I could see from here that they were getting a right soaking.

Was that thunder?

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Exploring one of the many gullies.

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Back up top and I get caught in a sharp n fast hail storm. Thankfully I had my back to it unlike the two chaps I passed going the other way. Poor fella’s!

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Back to the car without getting caught in the rain, fully walked out and with a great twisty valley road ahead of me to test out my new car.

Catching up.

Phew, it’s been a hectic few weeks both at work and at home and now that the sun has finally got his best hat on (for a week 🙂 ) , a good portion of game time has been swapped for gardening time and man-cave swapped for greenhouse. One plant I’m growing for fun this year could be considered a game of sort as when fully ripe and touched in the wrong place, ‘exploding cucumbers’ quite literally explode….and quiet violently too as they throw out their seeds at speed. Missile Command in the greenhouse? What I’m hoping to do is capture some of them on my camera as it has a video mode at super slo-mo 1000 frames per second.

Plans for this (bank) holiday weekend was to spend a little time putting the the final touches together on my MAME arcade cabinet but I’ve had delay this as more importantly, we’ve been out looking for a new car (the last becoming very unreliable and mechanic bills rocketing).

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I take delivery of one next week which just in the nick of time really, as I was heading out next weekend for a spot of camping and hiking in Wales and then the weekend afterwards back out west to the the ultra geek-fest retro gaming event of the year Retro Revival. Quite a few friends have been busy these past few months and I think the consensus is, that everyone is looking forward to a huge slice of downtime at Revival with plenty laughs and massive intake of retro gaming.

The lists of attending pinball tables and arcade machines keep growing as do some items of note that I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing before. The list of arcade machines also includes seven colourful Zaccaria cabinets including a Phoenix cab just like my own – accept this one is fully restored. I’m also looking forward to checking out event co-creator Chris’s own Zac cabs including his highly impressive Super Cobra cab like this one.

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Game time of late has been a little light and have a stack of titles I want to get through including all of the entries and winners for this years C64 Seuck Compo (i did try the twin stick Spy Rider a few weeks ago which was superb), a couple of Atari 2600, I picked up on eBay as well as thirty Sega MS carts I managed to bag for just £10. Fez came out for PC the other day which is also on the list as well as Sturmwind although this hasn’t arrived yet.

I have, however been looking at early video games from Capsule Computers after reading an article charting the rise of some of the biggest video game producers and am finding there first video game Vulgus to be quiet addictive despite being a little bland.

Any-ho, that me done. I hope, you’ve been getting in more retro gaming than I have and if you happened to be popping a long to Revival, maybe I’ll bump into you over in the Retro Computer Museum area?