Take Me To the Moon (by )

So I am doing a lot of research into the moon landings and stuff for various events this year to mark 50 years since Apollo 11 but with came the shock that somehow until last night I had never given up on my childhood ambitions - top year of infant school we did an assembly and we had to say what we wanted to be when we were older - I had three things I wanted to be:

1) an Opera Singer - my reasoning for this was you get to sing, act, dance, make and wear awesome costumes, write plays and songs and create amazing sets and props (I was 7 and had massive problems with my hearing)

2) Be an archaeologist and palaeontologist - I even took a fossil with me that a teacher informed me wasn't a real fossil as it was just an indentation - I already knew more about fossils than the teacher. (ironically I knew that the two fields of archaeology and palaeontology were distinct but related things but not that opera singers didn't make their own dresses).

3) An Astronaut - I kind of assumed I would at least get to go to the Moon and Mars to look for fossils and that I would then write books on it. I even resisted a diagnosis of asthma because I knew that would exclude you from the space programme.

I have managed pretty much all the first two options to some degree or other though stretching it slightly as I've only ever done Light Opera ie Musical Theatre - though I did get to sing with a proper Opera Singer at the Royal Festival Hall when I was a teenager.

Last night I was awoken with the realisation that I am actually never going to go into space - somehow I had still been holding onto the notion that when I was older I would somehow be fit enough and good enough to go. I was born with a heart murmur so there was actually never any chance of me going even if the space programmes had continued to send people up (though I think they could have done a lot of the moon stuff a lot differently and safer but it would have taken longer). It was that thing where I realised I am the sort of age of those original astronauts, when they were flying to the moon and back.

The closest I ever got to space was the meteorites at the Natural History Museum and then a lunar meteorite at Birkbeck/UCL but I never got to finish that project due to my health so actually worry that me blasting the thing with lasers actually made it less of a useful sample to others who came after me - I still get to say I blasted moon rock with green lasers I suppose.

I like collecting sets so am finding my inability to be an astronaut incredibly frustrating!

Things We Are Up Too :) (by )

Sun 20th of Jan - Waterstones Presents Villanelles with the Gloucester Poetry Society 2-4 pm in the cafe Waterstones Gloucester free entry

Thurs 31st of Jan - an evening with Holly McNish and fellow poets at Blackfriars Gloucester (sold out)

February World Poetry Writing Month - or WoPo - a writing drive I have been running for nearly a decade now, it runs through out Feb and I pop up writing exercises and various inspirational bits including guest bloggers and I have some fantastically talented people lined up as guest posters this year πŸ™‚ There is also a Facebook group and page and posts will appear on TheMonsterBlogs twitter and the Pinterest board.

Thurs 7th Feb - First Thursday The Enduring Eye at the Wilson Museum and Art Gallery Cheltenham Sarah will be presenting a poetic response to the polar exploration exhibition, free event and part of regular series: On the first Thursday of the month a cultural hub of food, music, performance, art and retail – all within walking distance and outside of traditional working hours – will come together along Clarence Street, Royal Well Road, St George’s Place and Church Street. First Thursdays is a public event and free to attend. The cultural quarter stays open until 9pm or later on the first Thursday of every month

Mon 11th of Feb - Cheltenham Poetry Festival Slam Qualifier 7:30 pm Playhouse Theatre Cheltenham, Β£5 tix

Sun 17th of Feb - Waterstones Presents Villanelles with the Gloucester/shire Poetry Society 2-4 pm free event - this event is now on the third Thursday of each month bar April as it clashes with Easter Sunday.

Sat 23rd of Feb - Folk Craft and Story Telling at the Folk Museum Gloucester (also known as the Life Museum) this is a free event as part of the Folk Trail during the Gloucester Folk Festival. Based in the Dairy and Victorian School Room out the back of the museum - sadly due to structural work the actual museum will be closed but the diary, cider press room and garden will be open. We will be running Rag Rug and Barge Painting workshops in the Dairy and story telling (including Aethelflead the puppet) in the Victorian School Room!

Closing Down Patreon (by )

I have closed my Patreon - I am still supporting stuff myself but I was finding it a bit of a millstone on the creativity for my own stuff.

I've been talking about it with my supporters for the last year and all agreed there was a better way for me to go forward - it is an amazing platform and helped me launch Love: A Stranger Dream.

But I am too diverse and my "fans" tend to want a specific part of what I do and not the whole thing and so it was just really not working for me.

There is content which is only on Patreon - I am not releasing it yet but will do at some point in the future.

The Minecrafter is BACK!!! (by )

enchanting table Minecraft

So one of the big frustrations with the head injury stuff was that video/computer games became something I simply could not do - I love my games - I am not really what would be called a "gamer" I suppose - I love what I love and that is sliding block puzzles like Tetris and junk jewels/candy crush and hexic, arcade type games like Peggle where you are basically playing electronic pin ball, puzzle solvers like Oh No More Lemmings and Worms, platform games like the old Mario Brothers, racers - either simple race tracks or as space ships dodging things and trying to beat others for time, simulation games like Vector Tower Defence and Lux. But though I loved things like Street Fighter I have always struggled with the more immersive shooters etc... so Call of Duty and even games like Portal - I simply always failed to be good at playing them - I do like watching others play them - but normally only the fist time round - for me they become a slightly interactive movie in real time.

Without Halo and the like I would hesitate to say I was ever a "gamer" I do like games however of all types, including board and and card games so I would say I am a GAMER and bring it on anyone who disagrees!

The absence of computer games was heart breaking I couldn't even do the Connect Adventure stuff which was such an amazing boon when we got the xbox 360. There were multiple reasons for this - I'd knocked my optics out during the head injury and have a blind spot in my left eye I have had to adapt too, brain processing power being limited meant a 10 min screen season left me drained and then the visuals and motion gave me motion sickness at best and increased my chances of seizures.

Every now and then I would try again and found last year that I could get on with Peggle (the pinball game) and proceeded to work my through the challenges I had left uncompleted in all the variants I had on the xbox. Hexic I have to be careful with still but can play a little bit but the one I was missing - the one I write stories about, the one I knit and collect the toys of... the one that is a family obsession and the one the kids kept asking me to play with them was of course MINECRAFT.

So I have been having a little go at it again, I have to have the sensitivity set so that the visuals don't fly here there and everywhere and I am still having to heavily limit time on it but everyone is helping me and it has been great fun πŸ™‚

My original world Gia is very out dated and somethings in it are broken due to the updates and the lack of certain biomes. I had made another world which was and will be an adventure map with Jean when we were hopeful the head injury stuff wasn't going to go on and on but it took too much out of me - she is now fretting that no one plays the adventure maps anymore but we have been designing it off line (yes I have note pads of scared paper - bite me!) so one day in like a decades time I'm sure we will complete it!

The new world is called Aqua-Ma'am and is essentially going to be my Aquarium world - mainly I got all excited because there are DOLPHINS!!! And sea wrecks and stuff. The biomes were set small and the hardness made easy - I only play in survival and I began to dig - issue - my eye sight is bad enough I can't read the stuff on the screen which is a bit of a pain but something I am hoping new glasses can sort but also a bit worried about as current prescription is not a million miles away from having me technically blind :/

Back to the minecraft - there are lots of different minerals and animals - I've found Lammas and bunnies and so so many fish!

There is also a whole host of new monsters or mobs for me to jump out of my skin and fret about! Alaric pointed out that I am the guy from I am Legend where the Drowned are concerned. These new water zombies are new to me and one of my little bothies/half way houses is right near a load including baby ones which sadly I took out. I do however now have a clam shell - none of us really know what to do with it as the kids play mainly in creative using it as kind of electronic lego and Alaric had gotten bored and wandered away from it a while ago but has been helping me, Jean, Mary and my Dad with our worlds over Christmas and is getting back into it.

In my orig world the entire thing had been centred on me building a giant pyramid , when coloured dies where added it became a rainbow pyramid - it was supposed to have all you needed within including the farms - this has been scuppered as I have lost the ability to tame pigs and other animals simply will not spawn there due to the lack of biomes - I think I have four? Including the Mushroom island. I had not wanted to use creative mode to fix things but may have to - I have a great art gallery in it πŸ™‚

Aqua-Ma'am is all about the fish - plans include an enchanted ice palace, a sandcastle hyper beach (though may not have enough sand for this), a giant glass pyramid at the very centre of the map and floating aquaria spheres in the sky, along with a research centre and theme park and underwater observation domes and maybe a ship or two - this is glass heavy so we will have to see how far the resources stretch!

It is tiring enough that outside of the holidays as we are now it will have to be restricted to weekends :'(

So far Dad has helped me mine resources so I had iron for shears so I could make beds without killing the sheep so that I could explore and uncover my map. Jean has chopped down trees and is my fount of minecraft knowledge, Mary has dropped me down holes in the ground and collected a load of snow balls for me and helped me tame my dog - currently called Dog. And Alric has been doing stints of exploring tunnels for me.

I have built myself a series of little mud, stone and plank huts around my world, and started some basic farming. I uncovered the map - got lost a lot, am now not entirely sure where all the bothies are but have now found pumpkins so have grown them, carved them and produced jock-o-lanterns so that I can mark where the houses are better than my little torch trails. I am trying not to waste any resources - and spent far too much of last week playing!

Finally seeing everything on the map meant I could choose what was going where - I appear to only have one village and a haunted house - this will be the research centre and grand library. I am hoping more stuff is going to be hidden in the vallies and under the sea. In my snow zone I have begun work on my enchanted ice castle and chiseled all the way down to the bed rock, collected lava and made a place to build the first of many enchanting tables - I am also farming the sugar cane though not yet cows needed to make the books (books are paper plus leather and paper is made made from the sugar cane). Turns out Alaric's farming techniques are a little bit out of date and my farm is a little higgled at the moment πŸ™‚

I decided to fill in the uneven bedrock floor with obsidian so had to retrieve lava in buckets - Al got the first lot for me and I accidentally destroyed a source block - boo hiss but once laid we build mud around and poured water on it. It had to all be lava source blocks as flowing lava becomes cobble stone.

Lava cross Minecraft

Obsidian cross in the bed rock Minecraft

I have enchanted my sword as I need to go mob hunting - so far all I've killed myself are downed :/

Really enjoying it and hoping I can remember what I am doing at the weekend when I get to play again!

Parent Fail 1 and 2 of the New Year (by )

1st parent failure of the year - turns out Mary had a theatre day on the first day back at school with a performance at the end of the day. Also she needed packed lunch which we obviously hadn't sent her with and though I knew she had a thing in January I had failed to notice it was on the first day back and a reminder txt only got to Alaric Blagrave Snell-Pym at 2:15 for a 2:30 performance :'(

Still not sure why I'm not getting the txts Al says he's emailed the school about it several times now and I used to get them but have fallen off of the system before - maybe it is one of those weird things like my my voice mail activating itself when I never set it up and have had the same phone for ages :/

We are really upset about this - poor Mary is just not getting the same attendance to her school performances as Jeany and not for want of trying but we are both finding the school letters dense and waffly without the info set out in an accessible way - but no one else seems to be having issue with it so we have to conclude it is us - to be honest finding time to read it on screen now its not paper is hard - ironically we had wanted an electronic version but more a searchable data base thing rather than just an electronic version of the news letter but then we have also failed to keep track of the schools tech upgrades including the homework set ups :/ And that is with us being a tech family - Jean is also struggling because our tech is all "out of date".

Not a good start to the year. Wall planner is now up and being filled in - sadly not in time for Mary's performance. Also what's happening to inset days why are they all suddenly NOT and activity days?

Us parents seem far more upset about this than Mary who was quiet happy because she got to eat a muffin for her lunch and muffins or MUFFFFAINS! are her current favourite food.

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