G&G: Gardens and Gaming

The cold has been sapping my enthusiasm and inspiration all week, but that didn’t stop me entirely.

The Garden

Now that the evenings are getting a little lighter, and the conditions somewhat milder, I have made it back into the garden. There has been plenty to do, starting with raking the ever expanding carpet of leaves from the goliath tree overhanging our garden, and preparing the raised beds for Spring planting.

Part of my plans for the garden this year include turning one of the half barrels from last year into a water feature, including a Japanese-style shishi-odoshi (deer scarer) hooked up to a small water pump. I found some suitable thick bamboo cane in the form of a decorative sculpture in the charity shop, so the next step will be figuring out how to make it look nice. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a shishi-odoshi involves a piece of bamboo which fills with water until one end is heavy enough and the piece of bamboo teeters over, emptying the water. The bamboo rebounding off a stone at the base produces the distinctive sound that you might have first encountered in Kill Bill: Volume 1.

The first job was to move the pampas grass and curtail the spread of the bamboo clumps. Then it was a matter of digging a big hole to sink the barrel into, which is easier said than done when you’re feeling rough and supervising a two year old who just wants you to hide in the plastic greenhouse.

The barrel and bamboo are aesthetically distinct, but I’m hoping the combination of the two won’t be too jarring. The back corner of the garden has always felt a little Japanese, and adding the water feature will help bring out its identity. Once I’ve figured out how to put it all together, I’ll post a photo of the finished fountain. I still can’t decide between a solar and mains powered pump, although the freedom of solar would be ideal, but unfortunately in Plymouth sun cannot be taken for granted.

Preparing the corner for the water feature
The cordon wall, which will look somewhat more impressive when the trees have leaves once again

I have been preparing the raised beds using trench composting, something I only recently discovered. Broadly it involves digging a trench, putting kitchen scraps and other material destined for the compost heap in, then covering that with a layer of soil. It’s a way of composting directly where you need the nutrients and simplifying the process. There are many proponents of trench composting online, but only time can tell whether it will be a success for our garden. Hopefully it will replenish the soil and provide plenty of fertile growth this year.

The Games

Since getting my replacement laptop and exploring the whole new world of Xbox Game Pass, I’ve been trying out some games I’ve wanted to play but never had the opportunity (or right hardware) to experience them. One of those is Deathloop, a 2021 release for Windows, PlayStation 5, and later, Xbox Series X/S. I had neither a computer capable of running it or a next generation console, so I didn’t get to try this one at launch.

Deathloop follows Colt, a man attempting to disrupt a time-loop on a remote island causing the inhabitants to live out the same 24 hours over and over again. You can only achieve this by assassinating a number of targets, essentially executing the perfect loop, before midnight of the same day. The setting feels very 1960s, although with a weird twist here and there. There’s a little “No One Lives Forever” flavour to the setting and equipment, and also a cartoonish quality.

I’ve only played the first couple of hours, but it’s definitely an interesting one. Although the laptop can run it, it’s a struggle, and there are frequent framerate drops. The Nvidia RTX3050 isn’t quite up to the challenge unfortunately, but I might try and drop the resolution even lower and see how it performs. It’s a shame as the laptop’s screen is rather beautiful. It’s not much use having a 3K screen if you can only play still images of games, though.

We’re still playing Signalis too, and the horror continues to bloom. Weird and wonderful monsters abound (cage full of arms, anyone?), and the setting has become even creepier in a weird underground facility labelled as “Nowhere”. Freaky.

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