December in Sheffield

Snow and freezing temperatures in Sheffield as the image shows. An eventful and busy periodAbbeydale Industrial Hamlet frozen lake in the run up to Christmas, it really should be a good one this year.

I am looking forward to a bit of warmth but by all accounts I've got some time to wait.

TAG is no longer publishing Wordplay, which is a bit of a blow, but hope to pick up the game next year and see some releases for it.
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    cold cold
Guild Wars Helmet

Age of Arthur

As winter settles in to reality and the new bike waits patiently in the cellar I turn my attention to the next writing project: Age of Arthur. In collaboration with 'Dr Mitch' we are putting together a Fate roleplaying game set in a semi historical Britannia at the beginning of the 6th Century. We have developed our own flavour of the popular Fate roleplaying engine 'Skein' and have started to embed that into the text. It's all quite exciting.

I say semi historical in that we will have a definite Arthur, the magical treasures of Britain, the old gods, monsters, magic, oaths that bind, curses, fates and even, perhaps the ancient Fae court as another fading power in the land. The resultant book will also be short by design. Many of the Fate roleplaying games are huge 400+ page behemoths, We're going for something much smaller. Britannia will serve as flavour and illustration of Skein, with enough detail to base some games there. One of the writing goals is to have a succinct and approachable version of Fate incorporating some of our experience in play. I expect Age of Arthur will see some playtest and convention play next year as the book is developed.

We have a long way to go. Most of the rules are agreed and the overall structure of the book is set and now being completed. I thought I'd mention it now and track progress of its development on this journal over time.

A lovely Sunday morning. Really ought to get up but a cup of tea is on the way so I might as well stay here some longer.
Jimmy Stewart?


Um, it's been more than a year...

Just to prove that I am still here and assuming you haven't been following my inanities on Twitter, or via its feed into the mammoth that is Facebook, I'll put in a quick post now, with more to come.

The house in Nether Edge has turned into a home. With luck I will be buying a place next year, but for now the house has more space than I will have for quite some time to come. Gaming happens here on a Tuesday, currently Simon's Exalted. The huge table is perfect for rpging, I hope there is room for it when we do move. The kids have their own rooms and screens and we have a good time together.

There's still lots of travelling. Claire comes down from Ulverston at weekends and sometimes I go back up there and then commute across from Cumbria to Leeds on a Monday morning. We're working on a better way of being.

I'm still based in Leeds working on the delivery of NHS IT applications and the associated business change to realise the many benefits. There's lots of important things to do and it really keeps the grey matter ticking over!

I'm now writing Skein, a concise Fate fantasy game for publication next year. My fellow collaborator Dr Mitch (Paul Mitchener) has put together some great ideas and it's really nice to work with him.

Life is ticking along well. Christmas has impinged and will be complicated. More on that to follow.

Anyway, hello...
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British Museum

Family Excitements

Various excitements last night at the family house...

Cameron was looking out for me when I arrived in my exciting Ford Focus. He rushed out and gave me a hug: “I missing you”. We didn’t have time for a ‘car adventure’ but I got to bath him and wash his hair. I seem to have the right technique or something as Cam only likes me to wash his hair. Thomas the Tank Engine and Mr Men stories for our collective erudition. Priceless cuddles.

Erin has been voted onto the school council by a landslide! Quiet and efficient, she’ll do a good job for her form and shows a vote of confidence by her peers. It’s great to see that she is starting to settle a little at Big School, though she misses SHJ very much. It’s a rite of passage.

Had to take apart Connor’s motherboard deceased PC by removing and demolishing the DVD drive to extract the copy of M$ Office within so that it could be loaded on Erin’s PC.  Well worth it as she was delighted to have the software available to her again. It’ll get a lot of use.

Connor returned triumphant having acquired a new PS3 at an amazingly low price! Safe to say he was absolutely delighted. I helped him setup the WiFi and he was off browsing the Internet on the television, pulling down YouTube videos and playing skateboard games. I’m hoping the unit will make a regular appearance at the cottage!

Sal is delighted with the results of her A3 scanner that she snaffled on eBay. With Dave sourcing a PCMCIA SCSI card we have it all up and running. The scan quality is very good indeed and should help her business no end. I brought down the portable HDD so that her valuable work could be backed up. The next job is to show Sal how to manage her website and upload more pictures.

Funny old evening. It was almost my last obvious opportunity to be in the family house, as I get the keys to the cottage tomorrow and will then have my own base. I return tonight to baby sit and take Erin and friends to Guides.

My own excitement is discovering ’30 Seconds to Mars’ thanks to Connor depositing it on my Zen MP3 player. Is this a good thing? They create a powerfully rich rocky sound with good narrative and beautifully played. I can’t be sure if I am just unleashing my inner Emo, but then I have recently discovered teenage angst for the first time, so perhaps it is fitting? Anyway, I like it.

Dave is lighting Ed’s production of ‘La Bohem’ at the Drama Studio this week. We have concurred that opera appears to be overblown emotion and great orchestra about the mundane. As such we started to sing ‘mock opera’ about my incapacity to have a cheese sandwich. Or any pickle to go with it. What uncultured swine we are.

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    calm calm
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Early Start

Another early work start this morning thanks to beginning the day at Dave's house. I'll be travelling into Leeds later today for a few meetings.

Tonight may have to be an Ikea trip planning and Furnace 'sort out' evening rather than doing anything fun. I could do with some fun...
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    contemplative contemplative

Sleep In

It was more of a doze in really, but the fact that I didn't get out of bed until 07:20 this morning is probably a good sign.

I don't think it was encouraged by a need to stay warm. The temperature in Sheffield is still reasonably high and though the heating hasn't been put on here yet there probably isn't much need for it. There's a general sense that the base temperature is dropping slightly, but essentially it is warm enough. My room tends to have the PC on much of the time that  I am in, so the fan chucks out some heat in what is probably the warmest room in the house anyway. Dave's books, which are shelved along the biggest outside facing wall, provide a fantastic insulating layer!

It strikes me that I won't be at Dave's haven for very much longer. Most of the bedding for the cottage is now sorted thanks to an extra few clicks to Sal's Asda order. The fact that the current tenant has generously donated her sofa and king size mattress and bedding has made everything much easier on move day. I have the Ikea trip with Erin on Sunday morning to hoover up a whole host of loose ends. I could really do with getting a range of basics including: pans, tin opener, oven gloves (look you never know), tea towel, washing up bowl, drainer, oven tray, nice lighting, iron, ironing board, chest of drawers. Being a boy I have sorted out television and broadband already, though the television is there largely to ensure my children will consider visiting me.

Actually, I say that about the television, but you never know. My life may be more solitary, at least for a while, or at least marked with times of solitude. Mondays, Wednesdays, and alternate Friday nights and weekends will be my own. Yawning gaps of time that I am used to sharing with someone. Perhaps I will get a liking for television? Eek I hope not! Also determined not to waste that time browsing the Internet either. A car, some boots and a rucksack should get me out and about. Bike rides remain a danger.
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    good good
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I'm down with the kids

I'm Back

A great night last night. My old team sent me off with a Millets gift card and a couple of bottles of wine. Speeches, drinks (too many) and a lovely meal with colleagues. It was a great night out with me a little tipsy. I slept on the last chugger train from Leeds to Sheffield vaguely stirring and seeing Wombwell station before dozing until the Don Valley and Meadowhall. Exiting the station I mingled with Leadmill revellers and took my familiar walk along Shoreham Street to Dave's house, returning at 00:45.

Remarkably spritely this morning, I seem now to have got the hang of sleeping again. No surprise really as my mood has completely lifted and the veil has gone from my eyes. Sleep was just waiting round the corner and has politely ambled back. Nice of it to join me again. The future also feels clear to me now. Months of thinking and considerable uncertainty are all of a sudden behind me, which is a blessed relief. Everything is linked and became unknotted together. Dave is seriously worried about my levity and good humour!

The Millets card could be useful as I fancy getting kitted up for some walking and camping, if not this year then next. A walking holiday may be a financial stretch just now but it really appeals once more.

Sent an email out to the gaming group. My appetite for gaming has returned and I am keen to participate in a weekly night session after the Furnace convention. I hope Wednesday nights are doable for the gang as my new regime means I am with the kids Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I've even offered to run some games, including my own Wordplay.

In summary, I feel thoroughly back to where I should be and can now stride forward and grasp happiness. Well, at least I look to be in better shape to have a go!

Look out.
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    good good
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I'm down with the kids

Great Weekend

For lots of reasons it was a good one. Great to spend some time with the kids, with me in charge for the full weekend. Connor is mostly in another time zone so had only the briefest of contacts, but it was great to catch up with the big fella. Erin and I chatted and ate together and swapped ideas for an Ikea trip maybe next weekend sometime. It looks like the two of us will have a lot of fun!

Cameron took most of my time with a trip to Weston Park Museum on Saturday and to the Fire Museum today. Snuggles, chatting, playing, bathing, exploring, car riding, story times. Altogether therapeutic.

The Cottage project continues to take shape. Microwaves and other trivia purchased and bedding for myself and the kids is being organised. In the end I just need to make sure the place is comfortable enough for the kids as, crazily, I am having them all to stay on my move in weekend! What am I thinking?! The two older ones are looking forward to sorting me out...

I am feeling much better now. Clouds have lifted and I can see things much more clearly, which is a blessed relief to me and doubtless to those who know me. Happy. Things that had been weighing down on me are still there but seem much lighter and comprehensible. I'll be able to move on with my life much sooner than expected, coinciding with the excitement of the move into the little cottage. My day to day reflections are fed via Twitter to my Facebook Page, so immediate, mad, daily thoughts can be found there.

Anyway, a brief uplifting update that sees me with a smile on my face and peace in my heart.

Now off for a stroll with Dave to the Botanical Gardens.

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    good good
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It really isn't that long before I move into the cottage. Real move day is probably Friday 2nd October. The place is there to help me find myself a little and understand how I can live and breathe when separated but in frequent contact with the family. A rota has been devised with alternate weekends and a few evenings a week and split cover for holidays. Still, essentially that means I am on my own which will make a change.

Friends have been most generous with their offers of help and content for my first solo home. Many thanks to all. A microwave was purchased today. Sub £30 Tesco base unit which, if it lives beyond my first pre-packaged vegetable curry, is tremendous value. Also got a discounted mobile phone for about the same amount, so my personal number is back up and running (text me and say hello for those who know it). My next major task is to sort out the bedding. I'll need a double matress for me and one more single matress. I expect a trip to order them from John Lewis. I have an offer of a double duvet but will need to ensure I have enough bedding for all the kids.

PlusNet broadband may appear in there at some point- it's ordered, but no sign of it yet. The old sky dish is live and with a Freesat box I will have digital TV. This ensures the kids will have television and might actually want to come round and see me!

There is so much to do, but have decided that I'll just take it steadily and get the things I need as I discover I need them, rather than planning everything.

Once I am in place I will take some pictures and post a link on a blog posting.
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    calm calm
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Jimmy Stewart?


Well it has been an awfully long time since I have posted here. There has been a lot of heartache and sorrow in my life over the past few months and some of that leaked rather messily into this blog. I've mopped most of the mess up now and am putting down a brightly patterned vinyl flooring to make sure it is easy to wash down in the future.

As I enter a new phase in my life I thought I'd start to chart progress here and reflect on events. Profundities may be few and far between, but at least those who care, and keep an eye out over here, will know what is going on. The next excitement is the new cottage which I will be renting from the beginning of October. More posts on that to come.

A recent purchase was a second hand car, a Ford Focus, that will get me form A to B should I need to. Cameron is very excited about this and keeps wanting to go on a 'car adventure', which basically means getting in the car seat and going for a drive and chattering away about what all the road signs say. I have to say it is a delight to be with him as we take a pointless trip to Owler Bar and back.

Any road, please regard this blog as back and open for more reflections as I adjust to my new circumstances.