I have been off for the last few days on house arrest (study leave), spending hours staring at question after question from every possible source. My FRCPath Part 1 examination is on Wednesday and the cramming is full swing. Ordinarily cramming is not my style, but it’s hard to avoid when preparing for an examination on almost every facet of human disease. That brings the “homeworking rant” section to a close. Back to business.
A Horsham Harvest
The first year at the new ODG headquarters has been a productive one. The raised beds, when not being overrun by broccoli, have yielded plenty of carrots, parsnips, beetroot, peas, courgettes, and strawberries to name a few. Not everything has worked out as evidenced by the Great Tomato Plague, but that is being made up for by more than enough chillies and (hopefully) sweet peppers. My acers have suffered from either aphids or vine weevils, but I intend to bring them back from the brink. We even have a couple of pumpkins after the plants miraculously survived in the shade. There was no room in the beds the pumpkins were planted in, so the vines trailed across the patio. An interesting result is that the pumpkin on the paving stone developed one completely flat edge, and has become known as “Flatkin”. As the nights draw in and a chill is in the air, Autumn is very much in play.
The world is against me. Or an infinitesimally small part of it, at least. I cannot buy coping stones. Coping stones, or the angled stones that cap the top of walls to help water run off, are a common building material and should be readily available at any builders yard or DIY establishment. First I called in to the local B&Q after the website stated more than 90 coping stones were in stock. I arrived and walked around where I knew they should be, but was faced with a series of empty shelves. I found an employee only to be told there was an error in the stock system and they were all gone. I’ve tried buying it at the local Wickes, only to be called on the way and told that all the stones they had were smashed. I’ve reserved them in Truro and been told the same thing. The building yard close to me is out stock. It shouldn’t be this hard! The obvious conclusion is that someone is sitting out there with my name on a list overlaid by a “DO NOT SELL COPING” stamp. That’s what it’s starting to feel like. Until I get hold of some I can’t finish the wall, but I am determined. I will not be beaten, and I will cope with the lack of coping.
Tomb Raider Returns
I have persisted with Rise of the Tomb Raider and I’m pleased to report that it is quite an enjoyable game. Rather appropriately for a game set in Siberia, it was hard to warm to at first. Lara was shivering and I was shrugging. It wasn’t until I got past the early stages of the game and into the meat of the story that it really came alive. Lara is trying to finish her Father’s work, hunting for the lost city of Kitezh and the fabled Divine Source, but unfortunately for her an evil organisation is after the same thing. I didn’t overly care for the crafting and semi-survival mechanics of the game but as you progress these become less important and don’t detract from the overall gameplay. If I had to distill it into simple terms, think Uncharted meets Batman, with a little Horizon Zero Dawn thrown in. The puzzles are also enjoyable, if a little frustrating at times. They did require a little more thought than the average game logic puzzle which was welcome. Overall it’s a stellar Tomb Raider game, perhaps the best out there. The franchise has become much more accessible than I found it in the past, and I would heartily recommend it to any action-adventure game fans out there.
Rawr: Two Minute Masterpiece
Calum, my best man and infrequent creative collaborator, recently composed and produced the music for a short animated film created by a friend of ours. It’s a beautiful story about a child navigating the disappointment that came with lockdown and the cancellation of ordinary life as we knew it. It’s available to view on BBC iPlayer and is really worth a watch.
As we head into another potential lockdown, I hope you are all keeping well and staying safe. This continues to be one of the weirdest years on record, but all we can do is try and make the best of it whatever way we can.