Busy times in isolation. I have been outside for most of the last few weeks preparing the garden for the summer ahead. The weather has been great recently and the jobs never stop. I planted the raised beds using square foot gardening, a simple approach particularly for the simple-minded gardeners out there (like me!). It makes planning beds easy and fast. You place a grid of squares (which, funnily enough, are each a foot square) over the bed as a guide. Each square foot accommodates 16 carrots, 6-9 leeks (depending on the source) or one broccoli plant. The diagram below gives you an idea of how it works.
I made the mistake of planting out the seedlings I started in the conservatory a little early without hardening off, and not having a crop covering. I have since built hoops and covered them with horticultural fleece after recommendations from my brother. They went into shock a little at first, but they’re well established now. Not surprising considering how warm it was in the conservatory – over 35 degrees Celsius.
The second bed has now been planted up and I’m planning on putting up another set of hoops for fleece to protect the seedlings from the elements. The second bed is home to radishes, several varieties of lettuce, more spring onions and leeks, and a variety of carrots. Gardening becomes addictive rather quickly, and I’m already planning the next wave of crops. I am really pleased with the end result of the raised beds, too. Robust, and aesthetically pleasing.
Shadow of the Colossus
The title is Gardening and Gaming, so I would be remiss if I didn’t mention part two. Shadow of the Colossus was free as part of the March PS Plus offering. My usual approach is to claim the games and forget about them, but Shadow of the Colossus interested me when I first saw gameplay footage and I had to give it a go.
I missed Shadow of the Colossus the first time around, as it was released for the PlayStation 2 back in 2006, and the only games I owned for PS2 were Metal Gear Solid 3 (obviously the reason I bought the console) and Max Payne 2.
The story is that of a young man named Wander who travels to a forbidden land in order to bring a woman named Mono back to life. In order to do this, the player (under the instruction of a deity) must defeat sixteen Colossi. These are giant creatures roaming the desolate but beautiful landscape.
The version I am playing is the HD remaster for the PlayStation 4, though it was also remastered and released alongside Ico (another game on the bucket list) for PlayStation 3.
Despite having a massive world to roam, the only enemies you encounter are the Colossi, and after each battle you are returned to the starting temple. You have a sword that can channel light, and shows you the direction you should be travelling, and a black horse called Agro. Your other main weapon is a bow which is necessary for some of the battles.
Shadow of the Colossus has been described as a puzzle game, and I can see where they are coming from. At its simplest, the gameplay boils down to:
- Go to monster
- Annoy monster/find weakness (the puzzle solving part)
- Climb monster
- Stab monster
What seem like insurmountable odds quickly improve as you watch a 100 foot tall creature fall over and slam into the earth. The Colossi are all covered with some sort of climbable material, but it’s up to you to find out how to get to it.
The vistas are breathtaking, and the experience is really quite enjoyable. You feel a real sense of achievement as you take one of these beasts down. And that feeling evaporates almost instantly when you hear the post-battle music. Not a triumphant high-octane track, but a forlorn anthem. You have slain a one-of-a-kind creature. Are you proud of yourself?
I am eleven Colossi in and have the feeling of not being the traditional good guy game protagonist. The world of the game just got a lot more gray.
All I have left to say is stay safe, and don’t inject bleach. Don’t drink bleach. Use it for cleaning if you have to, but for the most part there are safer alternatives. And just for clarity, I’m not being sarcastic (and it would be okay if I was being sarcastic, because, you know, I’m not the president…)