Once again folks, another week off of work, another week of blog-writing (and other regular activities) going to hell. Structure is nice and all but I do prefer the anarchy of free time. Which is why retirement will be great – apart from the fact that thanks to the Baby Boomers, I’m going to be at least 68. As Joey put it last night, we’re going to have to introduce the “Logan’s Run Law”.
Catch-up then:

1. Madrid: It’s not true what they say, the rain in Spain does not fall mainly on the plain. It falls on Madrid almost the entire time I was there. And it was so heavy that I swear a large wooden boat passed me by on the Grand Via containing two of every animal. So I went out on Sunday morning on Iberia – another airline where you have to pay for the food. €4 for a soft drink – sheesh. And I read last week that BA are considering, at least on the low budget routes, scrapping the freebies. Dear BA – DON’T!

Anyway, hotel Emperador on the Grand Via was very nice, good room, old-world fixtures and fittings, great breakfasts. The only two points of contention were that (1) the room was just too damn hot, even with the air con on and the window open & (2) the hotel was full of retired British people complaining that they couldn’t get a full English breakfast. Brits abroad – this is why would never stay at a resort. And the rain deterred from going to the rooftop terrace, bar and pool.

The city – I arrived on Sunday, left Tuesday night. Just enough time to see a few odds and sods, get appallingly drunk in some little bar, get soaking wet and buy some new togs. There was also a shop called House Art which seemed to sell all sorts of nick-nacks, hand crafted stuff, some of which were really ornate and looked fantastic. I didn’t venture in to buy as I could have walked out with a suitcase load of items as so much of it was cheap. My favourite piece was this granite pyramid, about the size of a fist which was a mere €10. The reflection of sunlight on the surface gave it a glow all of its own. And there were some pieces of petrified wood carefully painted with ornate, fractal designs. Something which you just don’t see here.

Did not get to see Guernica – thought it was at the Prado, not the museum down the road and after three hours of gawping at various biblical scenes, that was enough art for a year. But Madrid is not a place which has instantly recognisable landmarks, those are saved for other parts of Spain. Still, there were plenty of good walking opportunities, places to stop and sample the local fare and just generally take it easy. Would I go back? Maybe, but there are other places I’d like to see first. And definitely more in winter when it’s cooler.

2. Fallout 4: Despite 8 days and 8 hours of play in my second game, I’m still nowhere near finished. In fact, I’ve only just made it into the Institute so anyone who has completed the game will know how much longer there is to go. Why has it taken so long? Mostly my habit of roaming the map, walking between destinations rather than constantly “fast travelling” and completing every side/sub mission going for all the factions as well as the NPCs and picking up all the loot. I think my inventory between linked workshops rivals any major supermarket at this point. And Bethesda have cruelly released their DLC Far Harbour which means more play time is needed. But I did finish the Automata DLC and several of my settlements have robots running around on guard duty. Though Ada looks really scary with a skull now stapled to her head (don’t ask).

3. Made some slight progress on Star Trek timelines but blew a bunch of Dilithium (from the +100 per day cheap purchase) trying to get some premium characters so going to have to take my time rebuilding that. However, I do like the addition of the new daily Dabo wheel and the shuttle mission enhancements. Top character is currently Simon Tarses at level 64 (It’s because he’s the only common/uncommon character with a half-way decent medical rating for the Admiral Riker missions). Garak and Picard are close behind. Didn’t get all the badges in the recent outer space AdVenture Capitali$t challenge, was shy of one. And I’m eagerly awaiting the Egyptian version of Marble Age as I’ve been replaying that on my iPad a bit, particularly on the plane and at the airport to/from Madrid.

4. Week off: main objective was two-fold. Try and finish F4 (fail) and to give my feet a chance to recover from sustained abuse (success). No other major tasks or chores to have undertaken this time, a veritable week of self-indulgence. Frankly, the main highlight was the bowling on Thursday where I scored my best game ever at 163, utterly crushing Herr Schaller. Played three games and I won two of them, the third game on the last frame when I scored two strikes and a spare to snatch victory. Secret of my success? Getting really angry first although I cannot recall why. Alcohol helped because as we all know, chemically speaking alcohol _is_ a solution. There was also the monthly Griffin Games on the Sunday, played the usual stuff, nowt new. Lunch was amazing – a toad in the hole the size of a tractor wheel.

5. Mr B told me last week that Betrayal at the House on the Hill is getting its first expansion pack (why do I fall for board game expansion packs and balk at video game expansions most of the time?) and I finally got around to looking at it through Boardgamegeek today. Certainly has potential though could be tricky getting stuck in the roof when there are nasties roaming the house trying to get ya. Unless there’s a super-fun happy slide to use; though that didn’t work out in Treehouse of Horror III. Or was it IV? 

6. Also in the “upcoming game list” – Plague Inc. the board game is now on Kickstarter and although they’ve clearly met their goal, you can still support the project. I personally hope that they have made the board bigger so it looks less crowded. Looks like the planned/proposed release date is in November.

7. Another splurge in the board game shop in Finchley on Sunday: I only meant to browse but parted with…some cash, spent on a Ticket to Ride expansion, a gift for a friend (so that one is ok), the Babel expansion to 7 Wonders and the Godfather game which is a cross between Avalon and Mafia/Werewolves. In a huge box. Problem is, I have zero storage room. Looks like one in-one out now has to be extended further. I’ve been giving credence to the idea of getting rid of my old video game consoles (Megadrive, SNES, PS1) + games but that’s only a wee bit of room. I think this is a summer project, getting rid of more clutter.

No new contemplations, no earth shattering realisations. Just been a tranquil couple of weeks, long may it continue. It won’t of course, damn referendum coming up.

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