Saturday, August 10, 2013

What I Did On My Holidays Part Two: Locko

The day after getting back from Ireland, we paid a quick visit to our pet degus who were holidaying at friends' house, repacked, and headed Derby-wards. Specifically, we went to Locko Park.

The Spring Moot is the smallest of the four main Lorien Trust events, so despite going on the Thursday, we were still only away for four days. The benefit of going early though is getting to put tent up at leisure and getting to spend time drinking with friends and chatting instead of running around scared trying not to get hit. Or whatever it is the rest of them do while I'm going that.

After a night of Apple Sourz and throwing ice cubes at people, we actually went to bed fairly early and got a decent night's sleep. I was awake the next morning, only some hours after the boy got up, and we went to get breakfast at "the marketplace". There was a coffee van, so that was me sorted, especially when we discovered he sold cakes too.

At some point that morning I hit a slump, probably when more people were arriving and putting up tents and I was failing to help. I never really recovered from this, although the oppressive heat didn't help too much either. I'll try and remember what happened though, apologies if I got it all hideously wrong.

Shortly after time in we had word that the annoying illusion demon lord that had been repeatedly attacking our lands had taken one of our islands. This made us realise that we hadn't seen any of the scouts that had been sent to look into the situation on that island. This was especially troubling for my character (Rhiann) as amongst those that had gone were several friends, including the one cooking for us all weekend. A transport group did come back in, not looking happy, and with people missing. Was relieved to discover the member of my group (Order of Celestial) had been sent out earlier (out of character reason: the player arrived late), then felt very guilty as it turned out four characters had died. Everyone was a bit stunned by this, and it mostly wiped out my memory of the rest of the evening. Other than a void gate opening in a neighbouring faction camp and another character dying in the ensuing fight.

Saturday breakfast was enlivened by the young Ben Hunter, friend of Striker (my boy's character), turning on the High Scout and asking "Why did you leave my adoptive mother to die?" Arms folded, the lot. The lad is turning into a great little role-player. Later in the day everyone rushed to see the "big thing with wings" that had walked out of the ritual circle: turned out to be the Archon of Good who is now cured of being a Balrog and walked about a bit scaring the bejeebus out of the not-so-good characters on the field and putting a very big smile on the face of Seraphim: one of our faction who'd done a lot to help this come about. Things get fuzzy here. At some point some bad people turned up and had a heart-stopping moment when word got back to camp that apparently Seraphim had been "dismissed" (effectively insta-killed). I ran further than I've ran in a long time in an effort to catch up with Rhapsody (J's character) but it turned out to be a false alarm. I also discovered I'm hideously unfit, and really can't run very far, even if it's all downhill.

I then got embroiled in the ongoing battle for a bit, before managing to drag Rhapsody back up to camp so we could have dinner. We mostly then sat in a tent being out-of-character as at least two people had left in-character due to threat of dismissal and the rest of us were just knackered and hungry. This dragged on into night, J went to bed and others were considering it when the bells went off at the ritual circle (this is not a Good Thing generally). Some people raced down to be big shiny heroes, me and Ryn hung around at the camp gate before hesitantly deciding to try and see what was happening (it sounded like a big fight). Part way there we ran into someone else who was trying to get away from big fight who convinced us wading in would be foolish and we went back to camp. Eventually everyone else came back too and I went to bed.

Sunday I got up late (I think) and started packing early and then there was a bit fight. It was a bit vague, as final battles tend to be, but we were watching a ritual for the beginning of it which probably didn't help. I only fell over a few times (by being hit, not by just being clumsy) - once while trying to get to Rhapsody who was lying behind a couple of monsters, at least one of whom, unsurprisingly, noticed me run past them and whacked me on the back. Won't catch me doing that again in a hurry. Stupid me. We were all a bit spread out and there were worries that we might run out of healing power, but it turned out to be ok. I honestly can't remember what else might have happened.

After scorching hot weather all weekend, it naturally started raining just as everyone was trying to take down their tents. I mostly hid in ours and packed, J got soaked doing most of the loading into the car. The boy fell asleep listening to Muse while hiding in car from rain. I helped take down our tent once it had mostly stopped and then went and dozed in car too while J helped other people. We did our usual post-event meet-up at the nearby Toby Carvery - chatted with friends we didn't get to see much of at the event, and drank lots of lots of Pepsi Max. J drove us back home as the boy and I both fell asleep. She really is a star (but then it is her fault we go to these things in the first place).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What I Did On My Holidays Part One: Dublin

We got up early on Saturday (27th July) morning and J cooked us bacon sandwiches for breakfast because she is made of Awesome. We'd booked a taxi for seven fifteen to take us to the station, where we were ridiculously early for our first train of the day. We got coffee (hot chocolate for the boy) and sat on the platform with our luggage (a backpack each - J had the huge one which most of our clothes, the boy had one with all his things in and I had the one with two boxes of Yorkshire Tea).

We were finally going on our first "proper" holiday as a family.

Three trains later we were in Holyhead and we nipped across the river to the Co-op to buy lunch before going to the ferry. The boy automatically started spelling his name for the lady giving us boarding tickets before we pointed out this was the one part of the world he didn't need to do that (one day he may curse us for giving him a Welsh name, but so far he seems to have coped). The customs officer searched our lunch bag rather than make us take off rucksacks which was nice, and the ferry trip over was the smoothest I'd ever had. The boy was getting tired and restless by this point, but it was the longest trip he'd ever taken there was only so much reading he could do. I'd bought newspapers so was engrossed in a crossword most of the time.

After getting into the country by exasperating the immigration officer ("No, we didn't bring passports. I have a driving licence here somewhere..."), we got a taxi to take us to the B&B via a cash machine. There was then a slight 112/122 mix up, but then we got into our room ok and collapsed.

We were in Dublin. Finally.

That evening was spent visiting friends (and delivering Yorkshire Tea, which made them very, very happy), eating takeaway, playing Fruit Ninja on the Kinect, and saying hello to a snake. The next day we bimbled round the city centre for a bit, bought some stuff (but no gifts because I forgot) and postcards, and then got soaked as the rain suddenly started and we realised we only had one umbrella between us. We went back to the B&B (the fantastic Townhouse btw) to dry out and ventured out again only to get caught in even heavier rain. After hiding under a bridge for bit, we turned around and went back inside. It had finally stopped when we decided to venture out for dinner. We wandered until we found an Italian restaurant that looked reasonable. They had a ridiculously good wine menu (several pages, broken down by region, order by grape variety) and so we got a bottle of primitivo between the two of us, and the boy had orange juice. And some food. Which was nice.

Monday we took the DART to Killiney (and discovered how it was meant to be pronounced after asking for the tickets, no wonder bloke looked confused) and bought drinks and waited for another friend and her sister to come and meet us. The intention was to go explore a cave, but that was nixed by a youth group being in there, so we paddled/swam/ collected all the stones ever on the beach instead. We then went to find lunch, and foolishly went a different way back from the beach into town. And got slightly lost. We were confused why it was taking so long, but found a pub which seemed nice, and had a lovely lunch there. We also randomly bumped into yet another friend (we have lots of Irish friends, ok?) who'd just finished having a pint and had no idea we were in the country, but instead of asking him where the heck we were, we just said hi, and see you at the weekend, and things like that. We then headed out of pub, continuing down round we'd been going on, and finally asked directions. We then wandered even further, asked more directions, discovered we were in Dalkey (one stop further north) and finally made it to the station there. Much much later we looked at google maps and found out the u-turn we did without even noticing. Getting lost is fun.

We went back to friend's house (in Bray) and delivered more Yorkshire Tea (which made them very, very happy), ate more takeaway, and played Apples to Apples. Back to B&B we went and collapsed. The next day we took the Dublin Bus City Tour round (enjoying it right up until the wife and mother-in-law jokes came out) to Phoenix Park and the Zoo. Had a great time wandering round and seeing all the animals (except those hiding from the rain, we got wet again) and discovering just how cute red pandas really are. Like a cross between a fox and a bear. Two soft toys were bought, one for J and one for the boy. Took tour bus back into city centre and rested a bit before going in hunt of food. Were recommended the Porterhouse (and bumped into yet another person J knew) where the boy impressed the waitress by eating a huge burger and then ordering desert. I was told I needed to try a Hot Whiskey, and I have decided this is a Good Thing and I need to find a friendly bar to convince to do them over here. Or make them myself. Or move to Dublin. Whichever is easiest.

On Wednesday, we got up late, had breakfast (the full Irish breakfasts at the B&B were wonderful, although to be fair, most cooked breakfasts are and adding white pudding only improves matters), and tried to cram everything back into bags. Despite having got rid of two large boxes of Yorkshire Tea and only buying a few small things, all three bags were as heavy as before. We finally had time to write out postcards, went to pay up, discovered we'd apparently already paid in full when we'd arrived (which I seem to recall we were meant to, but J wasn't convinced it was the full amount) and trekked back out into city to buy white pudding and Cadbury's Dairy Milk, as for some reason the Irish bars are much, much nicer. We caught the tour bus again (as tickets were valid for two days) and by chance ended up with same driver as first time previously, so discovered just how much of his patter was identical every time. Thankfully got off before worst of jokes. Wandered around the Natural History Museum for a bit, then went to find lunch and mostly only found a Costa Coffee instead where we hid from the rain. The boy had lunch, and then we trekked further to find stamps, post postcards and then grab a taxi back to the ferry port. And then waved goodbye to Ireland.

Customs coming back in involved a brief lecture about how it's easier if children have their own ID (child trafficking) and the boy going suddenly shy before admitting J was his mummy. They apparently thought I was her child too...not sure how flattered to be by that! The trains back also went pretty smoothly, boy was very well behaved and I taught him how to do Sudoku. Arrived back in York at about half ten and took taxi home. Once again, as soon as I'd settled boy in bed I went to sleep.

Holidays are fun, but tiring. We all decided Dublin is great, and we should go again. Not just for the hot whiskeys though.