16 September 2018

On empty nesting and spring madness in autumn

My child, my one and only offspring, fruit of my body, is twenty one years old. Twenty one. I have produced and managed to aid a full human to grow to this ripe age and everything. And, strangely, one gets rather attached to a human living in your space like this. So it is with some dismay that I have recently realised that this human will not remain in our space forever.

It has been even more pronounced recently as they have been travelling to Norway fairly frequently to visit their partner. The last trip was the one that really drove home this realisation. And so I have started preparing myself for the empty nest syndrome.

The husband and I luckily enjoy each others company, and have spent a fair bit of time together so we won’t find ourselves suddenly living with a stranger as so many do, but our house always feels a little emptier when the young one is away and the emptiness will take some time to get used to. I am sure it, as all other feelings, will eventually fade.

I will just need to plan my travels carefully, to ensure we can continue the one real tradition we have, which is me waking them up at 5:45am on the morning of their birthday with pancakes (or crepes as the rest of the world apparently calls them).

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Growing up in South Africa, September was always the month of spring. It may not always be warm, but the signs of spring would be everywhere – sun rising earlier, trees in full bloom, air full of promise. September also meant I had a lot more energy and a head full of ideas, which I later realised was a cyclical bout of hypomania.

When we moved to the northern hemisphere, I believed this would end, as September is the beginning of autumn, and I expected I would see a slight downturn in mood.

And last year, my first September here, I didn’t really notice a mood swing either way.

But, this year, the mood I associate with September is back. Less sleep, more excitement, more exuberance, more energy. And thanks to my lovely friend Mandy’s research skills, I have now learnt that this is expected behaviour. And with some additional research, it turns out this is expected two weeks on either side of both the Autumn and Spring equinox. I must be honest, I have not really tracked my mood that actively for the last few years, and I have become a little complacent. I can feel the hypo coming on, and try and manage as much as possible with diet, sleep, exercise and sheer stubborness, but this means I am probably overdue a full episode and should keep track of things slightly better again.

26 August 2018

On future planning, upcoming events and hidden art

It is hard to believe that a short two years ago, we were rushing around madly trying to sell our home and belongings, arrange our visas and planning for the biggest adventure we could imagine. It feels like we have been in the UK for a lifetime already.

We have been talking about our next steps recently, as our visas only allow us to be in the UK for five years, and we don’t want to leave it for the last minute and get caught with our pants down. And while we have a few options we are mulling over, the one thing we know for certain is that we simply do not want to return to South Africa. We rather enjoy being so close to the things we enjoy, and cannot imagine living in that constant state of fear again.

But really, for us it is about the lifestyle that we’ve always wanted. Going to Wacken now means a quick 1.5 hour flight to Hamburg, rather than the 10-18 hour flights from the Southern Hemisphere, which means we can now attend every year. We can also go to gigs and events all around the UK without having to apply for a visa and saving for a year or two. And while we are here, we are going to do this as much as possible. Which is why we have already lined up tickets for the following:

  • Powerwolf and Amaranthe in November
  • The Unnoficial Stargate Convention in November
  • Nightwish in December
  • Peter Murphy in December

And the husband is going to see Dimmu Borgir and Kreator in December as well.

We’re also planning to see Turisas and Korpiklaani in February, and I am going to try and see George Ezra in March. And then there is also the opportunity to see great minds like Professor Brian Cox share the wonders of science with vast audiences.

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We took a wander through London again yesterday, and my bestie Mandy introduced us to a wonder that’s been hidden right under our noses, the Graffiti Tunnel located under Waterloo Station. It’s actually called the Leake Street Tunnel and was first turned into a street art gallery by the famous Banksy. It is now a legal space for street artists to show off their skills, and it truly is a magnificent sight. I took some photos, but they really don’t do the space justice.

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20 August 2018

On Heroes and Villains

We’ve been watching Once Upon a Time recently, and it has had me thinking about Heroes and Villains quite a bit.

In stories, typically the heroes and villains are quite well defined, it is the way the story is constructed typically. In real life, it is not quite as simple. And with the way words can be twisted and opinion manipulated with media, it is easy to lose sight of the heroes and villains in real life.

I saw someone share this on social media recently, and it made a bit of a dent in my head:

villain-in-someone-elses-movie

It is easy to forget that everyone is the hero of their own story. It is even easier to forget that we may be the villains in someone else’s story.

Everyone deserves a happy ending, even villains, but no-one’s happy ending should come at the expense of another’s.

I think that is where the clearest distinction between heroes and villains is seen. If you are willing to knowingly sacrifice someone else’s happiness for your own, you may not be the hero of the story.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this:

ae12af1b3c0e21b87078ca25dcd3e0e2--blowing-out-someone-elses-candle-instagram-quotes

17 August 2018

On building cities

I am quite a fan of city building games. From Caesar III to SimCity, I have been playing city builders for the past 20 years, but it has always been PC-based. Over the last few years I have migrated to console gaming, where the city builders have been sparse, until recently.

Because, recently, I discovered the joys of Cities: Skylines. It means hours and hours in front of my console, which has given me a wonderful break from the current political and human climate of ugliness. I worked through all the scenarios and started building some really lovely cities, until I watched some community videos, like this one:

And while this city was created with the PC version of the game, which gives you a lot more tools, I thought I would attempt something similar, especially with the new road tools that came with the Mass Transit DLC.

I used one of the flattest maps I could find, and did this in sandbox mode – there is no way you can do this in a standard for achievements city, considering the costs of the highways.

I expanded the map to all 9 tiles, proving a lovely large canvas. I then cleared the map, leaving the highway connections at the edge of the map, and used the 6 lane highway to connect corner to corner and then cross section the map. This allowed me to easily create the first circles.

Cities Skylines - Xbox One EditionCities Skylines - Xbox One Edition (3)

I took some time to plan out the highway connections, trams and busses, and then got to work.I forgot to do some captures before I started populating the zones, unfortunately, and I am not quite happy with the rounding of the highway around the tower in the middle of the city, but it is a fair first attempt.

Cities Skylines - Xbox One Edition (9)

I did build a few industrial areas outside of the circle area towards the edge of the map, as well as the supporting utilities and lots of garbage incineration stations. I’ve also now stated on a second, smaller circle off to the side of the big one.

Cities Skylines - Xbox One Edition (14)

The smaller circle suburbs turned out a lot better, I learned a few things about the road building tools that I will apply in the next attempt in doing something like this.

So far, the city has a population of 60k, with little visible traffic issues and a very low unemployment rate.And the city is now, finally, stating to run with a green balance – about 3 years in.So definitely not something you can do with a achievements city, unless you build it up with a fabulous bank balance and then annihilate it to rebuild, but I estimate it probably cost in the region of 4 million to get started, if not more. Six lane roads are expensive Smile

But it has provided me with some lovely views, and escape from a world filled with Nazis.

Cities Skylines - Xbox One Edition (10)

Cities Skylines - Xbox One Edition (7)

29 July 2018

On London

"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

Samuel Johnson

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