Monday, May 21, 2007

Bark/Byte: Scatterblog

I'm taking the scattergun approach to blogging today, as my weekend has been packed far too tightly to even attempt to make a thematically coherent post.

This weekend we were hosting our friends Sabine and Kaspar, who were celebrating Norway's national holiday day by, umm... not being in Norway for a long weekend. Having exhausted London's charms on Thursday and Friday (while my lady and I were at work), we met back up on Friday evening so that I could ply Kaspar with continental beer and make him play games on my Wii with me, while the girls watched movies on the PC.

On Saturday we took a trip down the M4 to visit Bath, where I had some very nice chargrilled salmon at a seafood restaurant while we waited for the showers to clear, before being toured around town and doing some shopping in the ever pleasant company of Rich. I spent quite a hideous amount of money, having treated everyone to lunch, as well as buying some spectacularly good fudge (with an equally spectacular price tag) and New Super Mario Bros on the DS. Once the shops closed, we bombed back east down a surprising quiet motorway (obviously The Cup Final Effect), popping quickly into Sainsbury's to pick up some more beer for Kaspar and myself, plus some coriander, lemongrass and ramiro peppers to put in the Nasty Goreng with Preying Mantis and Lembit Opik that I was cooking for dinner.

I then got to run Kaspar through some of my PC games, including brief tours of Outland, Cyrodiil, and Tatooine. I'm going to try and get back into Oblivion, now that I know that the best way to play it is to use a custom class and pick all your major skills as things you'll never, ever want to use during game play to avoid levelling up, so that the enemies stay manageable. I still think it's absurd that Bethesda could design an RPG that's only playable when your character is under Level 5 - whoever playtested the difficulty balancing needs to be sacked... Anyway...

Sunday morning we took Sabine and Kaspar back to the airport, and I went for a bike ride, testing out my recently purchased heart rate monitor in anger. I got it quite cheaply in Decathlon, but it's got a chest strap for a proper read out and it should help prevent me exercising myself to death - my heart rate was topping out at 188 beats per minute going up the hill towards Deepcut - it's hard work going up there; it must be a 15% (varying up past 20% in places) gradient for about a mile. Just after I'd got to the top, however, I was looking forward to the nice flat section so I could do a bit of riding at speed when I picked up a puncture - a six inch nail right through the top of the type - leaving me with a walk home of two miles. So having flogged myself half to death going up the hill, I didn't even have the reward of being able to do the freewheeling descent at 40mph on the way back down... bah. I replaced the rear wheel with the spare from my old bike, as I'm going to need a new inner tube for the wrecked tyre. Still, it was nice to get on my bike again. Let's hope that the weather stays good - I need to do get out and do some serious offroading a bit more often this year.

In the evening, Fleur and I sat down to watch Lulu on the Bridge, a film written and directed by one of our favourite authors - Paul Auster. Unfortunately, it's not such a great film. [Spoilers ahoy!] I've always thought that the "And it was all a dream!" ending device is a cop out, but here it's particularly bad, especially because I could see no other reason for it other than as an excuse to not explain anything about all the weird shit that's happened in the last 90 minutes... [/Spoilers end here] Still, at least I did get to ogle Mira Sorvino for an hour and a half, so it wasn't a *total* loss...
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