The Disposable Camera Project

Disposable Camera Project

This summer is going to be a good one; I just know it.  And because I clearly don’t have enough things to think about already at the moment, I decided that I really wanted to try something new and creative to capture all the cool things I have planned.  So, I came up with a great project idea.  I purchased a disposable camera, and have just 27 shots over the coming weeks to give a taste of everything on the calendar – festivals, weddings, Pokémon hunts, outdoor cinema.  At the end of the summer, I’m going to put them all into an album (even the really blurry ones).

I used to take a camera abroad with me when I was twelve years old – back when digital cameras were clunky and still a luxury (definitely not something a clumsy twelve year old would take for two weeks on a Portuguese island).  I always loved the excitement of getting the film developed, as I’d rarely remember what I’d found interesting enough to photograph during the trip.  Some of the best photos I’ve ever taken were the result of those disposable cameras, and there’s something about the nostalgia of it all that led me to paying what felt like a hefty price for a supposed ‘underwater’ one-use camera.

Though I am skeptical of how it would survive in the bathtub, let alone the Great Barrier Reef, I’m looking forward to seeing the results.  I’ll be sharing some of my favourites on here once I’ve got the film developed – look out for a post at the end of September.  Let’s hope at least a few of them turn out ok, but the uncertainty of the development process is half the fun.

Emma

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July 26, 2017
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The Other Side of the Camera: Orwell

After a long stint of not playing any video games, it seems that I’ve got my mojo back.  I know a lot of people use gaming as a form of escapism, but I find that actually I have to be in the right kind of mood to immerse myself in a new world.  I’m still not quite in the zone yet for elaborate RPGs, but I’ve enjoyed playing short games like the horror Neverending Nightmare, and most recently, Orwell.

In Orwell, the player is a newly recruited member of a surveillance company of the same name, whose job is to keep a watchful eye over the people of the Nation after a recent terrorist attack.

Orwell

Cassandra Watergate is the prime suspect of the attack, and the player must select which snippets of information to upload, drawing from sources such as newspapers, social media and university websites.  What gets uploaded directs the outcome of the game, including who lives and who dies – no pressure!

Orwell

As a fan of dystopian fiction, the idea of playing as Big Brother seemed really innovative to me.  It is actually a very immersive experience, and I became quite dedicated to my role; although I didn’t feel like I trusted Orwell, I wanted to impress my boss and do the best job I could.  It was also interesting to see just how easily I could build a profile for someone based on information put online – job, location, interests.  It is a good reminder to always be cautious of what you put on the Internet – you never know when Big Brother might be watching!

Although I bought Orwell in the Steam sale, it is more than worth its usual £6.99 price tag.  There’s also a free demo, so those who are curious can try before they buy!

Happy gaming,

Emma

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July 13, 2017
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Fairy Loot ‘Elementalists’ June Unboxing

I keep saying to myself, “this’ll be my last Fairy Loot box, I promise”,  but the themes have continued to be really strong every month, and the items inside always such good quality.  I just can’t stop (send help!).

For those who aren’t familiar with the subscription box, Fairy Loot release a new box every month for bookworms, with a different literary theme.  What I’ve always liked about them is that you can buy a one-off box with no rolling subscription – it is a real pet peeve of mine when an auto-renewal starts on a product without you signing up for it (I’m having flashbacks to My Geek Box now – I’m not impressed).

June’s theme was ‘elementalists’, which I was particularly excited about.  It is always interesting to see how the different themes are interpreted, and how the different items reflect it.

Let the unboxing begin…

Fairy Loot

Witchwood Remedies sure know how to create a scent with a kick!  Though it wasn’t to my tastes, the label design is so nice that I’ll be gifting this to a friend for Christmas.  I did have a slight niggle with this one – I was a bit concerned about having flammable decoration around the wick, so I’d recommend clearing it out before lighting the candle (safety first, kids!).

Fairy Loot

The ‘Clairvoyance’ soap was one of my favourite items.  I love how it is wrapped, and it smells incredible too!

Fairy Loot

I felt slightly underwhelmed by the ‘Air Bender’ lip balm – it must be difficult to jazz up something so small, but at least it has a function, and I’ll be able to actually use it.

Fairy Loot

I finally got a cushion cover, which (sad, I know) has been my Fairy Loot dream since my friend received one in her first box last year.  I just need to source an actual cushion now to go inside…

Fairy Loot

This is also the first time that the book really interested me.  I’ll definitely be making time to read it over the summer, if I ever get The Rachel Papers finished!

Fairy Loot

Of the three I’ve had so far, June wasn’t a favourite in the end, but I still felt it was good value for money.

I’m going to try to behave and not order another Fairy Loot for a while, but August’s theme has already been announced: Otherworlds.  It is for fans of A Court of Mist and Fury, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and Peter Pan – in other words, it was pretty much designed specifically for my tastes, and it would be disrespectful if I were to not order one… right?

Emma

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July 6, 2017
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5 Favourite Board Games of 2017 (Part 1)

We’re just over halfway through 2017, but already I have added more than a dozen new board games to my repertoire.  I thought I’d pick out my favourites so far, as I’m so excited by these titles that I can’t possibly wait until the end of the year to share them… so watch this space for a part two at some point!

 1.) Sub Terra

Sub Terra

I played this for the first time yesterday – what an incredible game!  Funded by Kickstarter, I don’t even think it is available to buy anywhere yet, which means I’ll be waiting a bit longer until I can own my own copy.  The aim of the game is to escape being trapped underground, surviving cave-ins, gas leaks, floods and nightmarish horrors before the flashlight breaks… My one playthrough was intense, and the co-operative elements are what made it my favourite board game of the year (so far); figuring out whether to split up or stay together is no easy decision to make.

 2.) Mysterium

Mysterium

This supernatural murder mystery is great fun.  One person must play the ghost, and communicate to the other players the details of their murder through abstract vision cards.  This is a real test of friendships, as the ghost must choose vision cards that he thinks the receiver will be able to decipher – and sometimes you just find yourselves on completely different wavelengths!

 3.) Pagoda

This simple two-player game takes a surprising amount of thought and strategy.  The premise is to take it in turns to place columns, winning points as the levels of the pagoda get higher.  I’ve yet to beat my friend at this, despite at least six rematches, but it has taken away none of the fun.

 4.) Splendor

SplendorSplendor was one of the first games I ever played when I attended my first board game cafe.  It is my favourite card game at the moment, not even beaten by Exploding Kittens or Flux.  Players must collect and spend gems, building their empire until they have enough points to win.  My favourite feature of the game is the heavy gem tokens – they are great quality, and nothing quite beats the satisfaction of stacking them together!

 5.) Kana Gawa

Kana GawaKana Gawa is the most gentle competitive game I have ever played.  Players must build beautiful Japanese landscape paintings, collecting points for things like combinations of trees, animals and people.  The illustrations are beautiful, and it is a real pleasure to play.


Five excellent titles that I recommend to any board gamer!  The rules of any one of them are not so complex that they couldn’t be picked up by a first time board gamer too.  Sub Terra for those who like a frantic 60 minute game filled with monsters, finishing with Kana Gawa for the more relaxed gamer.

Have you ever played any of these games? Any recommendations for what I should play next?

Emma

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July 2, 2017
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Vampire: The Masquerade – Meet Hiroko

Last year I experienced tabletop roleplaying for the first time.  I’d dabbled in it before – a game of Edgewalkers here, a few nights of Pathfinder there – but I’d never really taken it seriously before.  That is, until I was invited to join a game of Vampire: The Masquerade.

Inspired by my recent read of the time, The Trees by Ali Shaw, I created Hiroko, a Gangrel (animalistic shape-shifting vampire) from Japan.  Hiroko was just nine years old when she was murdered by a mysterious stranger in the woods near her home.  Scared and terrified after her transformation, she frenzied (a term for when a vampire’s humanity drops too low and the beast within them takes over) and killed her parents in an attack orchestrated by her twisted Sire.  After years of abuse, traveling with her as a pet and means of entertainment, her Sire abandoned her and she found her way to the moors of England, where she was taken in by an old Gangrel called Morris.  She moved into a beat-up old caravan on his acres of land, where he taught her how to control her bloodlust, and feed off sheep instead of people.

One night Hiroko learns of the terrifying murder of her dear friend Morris, and forms an unlikely alliance with a group of vampires, who are all invested for their own reasons in finding out who has been killing the locals.  As the story unfolds, Hiroko soon learns that someone from her past has returned – her wicked Sire, who lives now in a neighbouring city.  What has led him to the same area as Hiroko, and does it have anything to do with the murders in town…

Sadly, the group was not to be, and we were never able to complete the full storyline, but I loved developing Hiroko! The game involved a lot of acting as we stayed in character through the sessions. Acting isn’t my forte, but usually by the end of the session I was successfully ‘in the zone’, and it was actually quite fun!

Has anyone else ever played Vampire: The Masquerade or similar games? I’d love to hear about the characters you created!

Emma

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June 18, 2017
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5 Reasons Snotgirl Volume 1 Disappointed

Snotgirl

Fashion blogger Lottie doesn’t really lead the perfect life her photos portray – in reality her boyfriend has dumped her, she hates her friends and she is struggling with her allergies.  The premise of Snotgirl is good, right?  I love Bryan O’Malley, but here is five reasons that Snotgirl is just (s)not as good as his other works:

1.) TOO MUCH HATE.  Where’s all the love?  Female relationships are portrayed really poorly, and I couldn’t relate to the friendship dynamics at all.  Lottie had annoying nicknames for her friends that really weren’t necessary, and she says early on they are all “horrible people”…

2.) LOST THE PLOT.  What is going on and why?  The story itself felt very jumbled, and it didn’t seem to know what genre it wanted to be.  Rather than being a successful contemporary mystery, it felt too confused.  There was something interesting in that Lottie’s allergy medication seemed to be having curious side effects, but it didn’t form enough of the plot to really make me want to read on and find out more.  Also… what on earth with John the detective’s creepy obsession with Lottie?  I don’t know, the whole thing is wrong to me.

3.) UNLIKABLE PROTAGONIST.  I didn’t even love to hate her, I just didn’t like her.

4.) ALLERGIES AREN’T SOMETHING TO BE ASHAMED OF.  Allergies suck, but it is important to find ways of living with them.  Lottie is so ashamed of her allergies that she keeps them a secret from those around her.  I can only hope in time part of her character development will be to open up about them.

5.) WEAK DIALOGUE.  Few conversations really drive the plot forward, and I got bored with the subject matter quite quickly.

Social media stars are quite influential these days, and I was hoping this behind-the-scenes look at a fashion blogger’s life would be fascinating.  I did enjoy the outfits and characters, and I did find the pressure on Lottie to be perfect really interesting, but as a whole the story just wasn’t successfully pulled off.  I would be intrigued to learn if things pick up in later volumes, but I’m not convinced I’d be willing to spend money to find out.

Emma

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June 17, 2017
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25 Things Before I Am 25

It was my birthday recently – I turned 24, which pushes me frightfully close to no longer being eligible for a Young Person’s Railcard (I sure have my priorities sorted…).  Time seems more precious as you get older, and I’ve decided I want to mark the next year by celebrating 25 life-affirming things I do in the next 12 months, before I turn 25.

I don’t want to write a bucket list with items to cross off, I want to stay completely open-minded, and allow experiences to happen as and when.  I want them all to be very different – experiences which shape my identity, or are just plain awesome.  Saying that, there’s definitely a few things I hope I’ll be able to achieve, including giving blood and taking part in a charity event – watch this space!

You can find the list below, which I’ll be updating over the year:

1.) Helped to run a Comic Village table at MCM London Comic Con

2.) Saw my favourite band, Madina Lake, in their reunion tour in Cardiff

Doctor Who Experience

3.) Doctor Who Experience

3.) Visited the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff (and volunteered to help in the interactive element!)

4.) Went to a wedding as an adult (weddings were always the thing I got dragged to by my parents – it was wonderful to attend as a guest in my own right for the first time)

5.)

6.)

7.)

8.)

9.)

10.)

11.)

12.)

13.)

14.)

15.)

16.)

17.)

18.)

19.)

20.)

21.)

22.)

23.)

24.)

25.)

Emma

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June 11, 2017
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First Lines Friday: 9th June

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?  If you want to make your own post, feel free to use or edit the banner above, and follow the rules below:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

If you’re using Twitter, don’t forget to use #FirstLinesFridays!

She was waiting for him – or someone – though he had not phoned ahead.  ‘Where’s the boy?’ she called from her porch.


Read on to find out which book this extract is from…

Arrow

Arrow

Arrow

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

29758030

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


Summary:

The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don’t they teach you anything at school?

So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who’s been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she’s confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.

One Saturday, he doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father Quinn arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed. The boy’s mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that even at her age the world can surprise you, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find yourself again.


Oooh, I know this book is going to break my heart.  It’s wonderfully written, with an engaging plot and lots of character development – I can’t wait to finish it!

Check out the First Lines Fridays archive for more posts like this!

Happy reading,

Emma

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June 9, 2017
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Running a Table at MCM London Comic Con

Harry Potter MCM

Regular readers will know that I am a bit of a convention nut, and have been to MCM London Comic Con (almost) more times than I can count.  Unfortunately for the past year or two I’ve been unable to attend, so I was thrilled to be invited along by artist Sugar Coated Emi to assist her in running a Comic Village table.

I’d never been on the other side of MCM before.  I’d never considered the logistics of pulling together such a huge event – in May 2016, over 130,000 attended the convention over the weekend (I can’t find stats for May 2017, possibly less due to current events in London).  We were right next to the entrance, and the sheer volume of people moving through was phenomenal.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend, with its fair share of highs and lows.  Here’s a few things I learnt from being behind the table:

  1. Set up on Thursday – we arrived to find that as we were a late booking, our table had been missed.  Cue one hour of chaos and frantic searching, until a very kind member of staff appeared with a table for us!  We were relieved to have this happen to us on the Thursday, rather than an hour before doors opened on Friday.
  2. Sweets on the table are a great ice-breaker – they didn’t always result in sales, but it was a good way of initiating conversation, and meeting some awesome people.
  3. Artists are some of the nicest people – there was so, so much kindness shown to us by the other artists.  Sweets were shared and comics exchanged!
  4. It is as much to do with networking as sales – we spoke to a lot of customers who were artists themselves, and so much of the interactions we had were about exchanging details and sharing upcoming projects.
  5. If you can, have an assistant to help at the table – and with MCM, a second exhibitor’s pass is included in the table price!  Assistants are great (even if I do say so myself) for fetching food and drink, and for manning the table during toilet breaks and con-exploration.

Fortunately, I still had lots of time to explore the exhibits, and for much of this could probably be found eating strawberries and cream doriyaki by the Pop Asia stage.

Pop Asia

I also discovered that I love the intensity of live gaming tournaments, particularly Tekken!

MCM

MCM Tron

Bike envy.

Being a retailer at MCM made me really appreciate how hard artists work, so I didn’t hold back in showing my appreciation and expanding my art collection:

MCM Purchases

Money well spent!

I also did a little bit of doodling of my own.  Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have my own convention table:

MCM drawing

Did anyone else attend MCM London Comic Con this May?

You can check out MCM’s next convention on their website: http://www.mcmcomiccon.com/

Emma

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June 8, 2017
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The Doctor Who Experience

Doctor Who Experience

Also known as That Time We Unknowingly Booked Tickets for the Saturday of the UEFA Champions League Final.

The first weekend of June was a pretty good weekend.  One of my favourite bands, Madina Lake, announced they were doing a reunion tour, and would be visiting Cardiff.  Knowing it was soon-to-close, we decided to also book tickets for the Doctor Who Experience at Cardiff Bay – something to tick off the old Nerd Bucket List.  Tickets and hotel booked (why were so many hotels fully booked already, we wondered), we were surprised to learn that our plans clashed with one of the biggest events of the football calendar – the UEFA Champions League Final.

Don’t you hate it when you leave your hotel and there are tens of thousands of football fans between you and your destination.
– Me, all weekend

Trudging through the chanting crowds and bag searches (how quickly you become desensitised to strangers digging around in your dirty laundry), we finally made it safely to the DW Experience.

Doctor Who Experience

To be honest, I’m not the world’s biggest DW fan, but fortunately my traveling companion had far more knowledge than me, and was able to explain all the references and exhibits!

Doctor Who Experience

Before we queued, I may have spent a long, long time looking at this wax model and waiting for it to move or blink…

Three families, two Italian football fans and a pair of nerds walk into the Doctor Who Experience…

The first half of the experience was a roleplay, something that made my friend and I rub our hands together with glee!  Something that made the two Italian football fans glance back longingly towards the exit as the doors closed behind us.

Incredibly, visitors got to actually crash drive the TARDIS, led by an experienced guide and narrated by the real Doctor (Steven Moffat) himself.  With a bit of imagination, it was easy to get into the spirit of the journey, and I was determined to get the most out of every part of the experience!

My favourite section was the The Weeping Angel graveyard, which was like something from the London Dungeons – all it was missing was actors to jump out of the shadows and scare the already whimpering children.  With the children clinging to their mother’s legs, and the Italian tourists exchanging exasperated looks, I knew that I couldn’t let the Doctor down, and volunteered myself to collect the very last crystal, wedged into a rock beside a Weeping Angel’s outstretched hand.

After all that excitement, we were released to enjoy the museum part of the experience at our own pace.

Doctor Who Experience

Doctor Who Experience

Doctor Who Experience

Further along the museum there was an incredible display of costumes and monsters from the series, most of them from the last ten years.  Many were very realistic, and it felt almost uncanny being in their presence… I actually saw a little boy crying because he found them so frightening (and I totally sympathised with him!).

Doctor Who Experience

Doctor Who Experience

Doctor Who Experience

Doctor Who Experience

If you click on the image below you can check out this panoramic of all the Doctors’ costumes (some originals, other replicas):

Doctor Who Experience

Tour over, I bought an amazing poster and tote bag from the gift shop, and left quickly before I could spend anymore money.  From there, we fled through the streams of people to the train station, and were en route to home before kick off had even begun.

Emma

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June 4, 2017
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