DreadBall Catchup

I got my first DreadBall package a couple of weeks ago, and I calculated that it contains over £150 of miniatures – an incredible deal, when you also consider that I’m getting another two packages next year.

So far I’ve played three games with the unassembled Marauder and Corporation teams (luckily, even without arms and heads their poses make the positions clear enough). The first was a half-game against Jen where she beat me with 3 points, in which I played the Marauders and tried to smash the humans into a fine paste.

The second game went better for me – I played against Lord Scree (one of our roleplay group, who plays a human Tollkeeper in the game I’m running and once used a Sunspear to devastating effect) and scored 3 points myself early on. Unfortunately, his Corporation team got two 4-point strikes thanks to awesome passing and learning to smack Orx in the back of the head (although this might have been helped by my misreading that Orx guards only have a speed of 5+). It might have also helped that I got excited on threw a strike with the first action on my turn, and in DreadBall when you lose control of the ball (including throwing a strike) your turn is over and any remaining actions that turn are lost, wasted, unusable. So again, playing as Marauders against the Corporation, I lost by 5 points.

My latest game was against Jen again, and I got to play as the Corporation. I won for the first time, but I can’t remember by how much. The extra power that Strikers have over Jacks is pretty impressive, and now that I have the Veer-myn team assembled, it might be a bit of a fairer fight in our next game until we work out how best to use Jacks (especially Goblin Jacks, who are next to useless at slamming). She had some terrible luck, missing throws and catches with her first couple of actions, or tripping up with the ball while evading,

I’ve definitely got the bug, and my two test opponents love the game too. My next mission is to make sure that the models get assembled and arrange a games night to show it all off. Once they’re all assembled, I can get them undercoated at the first opportunity, then I can begin painting in the evenings again. As they’re all nearly finished, I can be sure that they’ll be assembled by February although I’ll need a good day’s weather (or borrow my in-law’s garage) to spray-undercoat them ready for painting.

I originally hated the colour schemes in the book, but they’re actually growing on me. I think I’ll skip on the Corporation scheme of silver and blue, but I haven’t come up with anything else just yet. I think I’ll stick with the Marauders scheme exactly as is since red goes well with greenskins. I had an idea of reverse-shading on the Forge Fathers, where the deep recesses are white hot and the armour appears to cool as it gets nearer the edge. It might be difficult to pull off, but it’ll be very Forge-y and intimidating in a sports-team style of thing. My Veer-myn definitely won’t be orange and white, I don’t like the clean look for rats at all. I was considering a plaguey green and brown, but the concept art in the book with yellow armour covered in dripping grime and slime, oily and mouldy, also appeals to me. I’m not quite ready to make my mind up yet anyway so I can mull it over, get some feedback, and see what more motivated players are getting up to on the forums.

When the female Corporation team is released next year, I will probably paint them in the same colours as the male Corporation team (when I decide what colour scheme) so I can mix and match the models. I’m not a fan of gender differentiation, and one way to get my attention for an hour or more is to talk about girl toys and boy toys. Just don’t expect to get a word in yourself while I rant. I’d like to have two mixed teams – one using the Season 2 Corporation rules with whatever special agility rules they end up with, and one using the vanilla Season 1 Corporation rules. Perhaps, if it doesn’t look too discordant, I can give them a mix of Star Trek uniforms from Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, where some have a black uniform with coloured shoulders and others have coloured uniforms with black shoulders and trousers. Maybe I’ll try and get a picture editor and experiment before I crack open the paint pots.

When it comes to the MVPs revealed so far, I am tempted in most cases to paint them the same as the team they can play for. In cases like Buzzcut and John Doe who don’t have a single team restriction, I’ve not made my mind up. Even Slippery Joe, who can only play for Marauders, I may end up painting the same as the ‘official’ paint job because he looks pretty cool. Wildcard looks like she’ll have a different uniform to the Season 2 Corporation team, so I can let my imagination fly there. Buzzcut looks to be mostly undressed so he’ll stand out even if I put him in the Marauders colour scheme – he’ll be green where everyone else on his team is in red armour.

I’m not a fan of the colour schemes used for John Doe and Number 88 – they both have the same grey uniform, which for Number 88 means it’s almost a completely grey model. For such a sleek model, I’m thinking about trying some freehand designs on the armour. My favourite idea at the moment is a sort of swirly, sketchy blue – a bit like tribal tattoos but more flowing and less sharp – on a plain white. Now that I come to describe it, a little like a china plate pattern. The flowing pattern matches the ‘Mind Like Water’ skill that the character has, where it can use martial arts techniques and is difficult to really smash. The plain grey armour seems to fit with an assassin on the battlefield, but not a showy bright sports game, televised, vid-casted and advertised all over the place.

For John Doe, I think the deep purple colour is too dark and cartoony-alien coloured. I’m going to experiment with Earth octopi, with some fleshy-orange skin with a cream-white underbelly. It’ll be a nice test of my painting ability, and hopefully when I see the sculpts for the rest of the ‘Nameless’ team (though this won’t be until Season 3) I’ll see if it will still work. The armour I might try and do a slightly metallic blue-green to evoke the sea and marine colours. I’d like to save purple for the Asterians in Season 3 (incidentally, I really want to give them a Green Goblin style with metallic purple and green armour).

We haven’t tried a game with the ref or any event cards yet, since we’re all still learning but I’m looking forward to introducing them soon, in one of the coming games – perhaps after we’ve exercised all the teams a bit more. I’m definitely hoping to get better at the game and at least one team painted before another parcel of models arrives in May next year, with another 50+ models in it!


OK, let’s do this again. As usual, I post for the first few months of the year, tail off until December and then stick up this post to justify having a blog at all.
Did you enjoy this year?
Aside from massive tiredness caused by the most difficult teething ever – yes, I have. I’ve done a lot of crazy stuff and had a lot of fun. It’s about time.
What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
A lot of travel – visited the Caribbean, visited Eastern Europe, plaited my own beard, quit two jobs before my birthday. Programmed in Java. Went to Cardiff, shouted at a ticket inspector,
Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I was planning to make resolutions, but things got a bit crazy this year and I lost it. Hey-ho, never mind. I’m not even going to try this year.
Did anyone close to you give birth? 
I’m an uncle! My sister-in-law had a lovely little girl. So my kids have a cousin… My friends had their third child too, that’s exciting. A little scary. I’m going to try and visit as soon as they allow me to.
Did anyone close to you die?
Right after doing this last year, the friends who just had a baby girl lost a baby girl. She was only 12 weeks old and I didn’t get a chance to meet her. I’ve felt like a terrible friend all year for not visiting them more.
What countries did you visit?
For the first time in a long time, I’ve travelled far and wide. Quite literally far and wide – we went to Cuba as a family in June (it was supposed to be February but our daughter had an unexpected hospital stay after a routine surgical procedure), I went to a stag do in Romania (what happens in Romania stays in Romania) and I got a job in Wales. For the first time since I was a wee baby, I’ve been to Wales, and the first time ever I visited Cardiff City. My first time there was my first day on the job.
What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Sleep. I had a pretty good year so I’m not that keen on getting something.
What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Wow, so many… There’s the 30th January, when Izzy came out of hospital 2 weeks after her ‘in-and-out day admittance’, the 15th June where she celebrated her first birthday in Cuba, Freddy had two birthday parties, Christmas as ever was a blast with kids, starting a new job in March, starting another new job in June, the Romanian weekend at the end of September… it feels like a lot has happened this year that I want to remember.
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Cuba! Cuba was amazing. Not much of an achievement, almost anyone can go if they want to. Quitting a terrible job and being head-hunted twice was a pretty big achievement too. I am impressed with my ability to survive in a Java development environment, although I’m not going to be making a habit of it.
What was your biggest failure?
This blog was a pretty massive failure.
Did you suffer illness or injury?
I’ve had tonsilitis a lot this year. Every month for about 6 months. Then it stopped. Very bizarre. If I have a lot of throat infections again next year, my GP may refer me for a tonsilectomy.
Did you have to go to the hospital?
As feared last year, Izzy’s tongue tie grew back and it was a proper day-surgery anaesthetic job to get it sorted. Except her tongue swelled up so that she couldn’t drink, and had to be kept in hospital for two weeks (pushing back our holiday six months). That was scary. Other than that, we took Jen to hospital because she broke her toe but she didn’t complain too much about it.
What was the best thing you bought?
DreadBall! I’ve taken part in a few Kickstarters this year, and so far two of those have vindicated the other two. DreadBall has a massive discount, and the Order of the Stick drive got me loads of cool extras. The other two I put in much less money, as they are higher risk things – they’re computer games, and not yet completed, whereas OotS was reprinting existing books, and DreadBall was a finished product funding it’s launch.
Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Really just the kids.
Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
My previous employers. A lot of politics happened in the office and it must have been clear that our small, productive, non-Scrum development team didn’t want to join the large, unproductive Scrum development company because within a month four people had quit. In less than six months, another two left and one more is looking to leave. Kind of fitting that on joining the company we were forced to choose a team name and the most acceptable suggestion was “Icarus”…
Where did most of your money go?
The house, another big chunk on our holiday to rebook it for June (£120 per person for a family of four – ouch!) Next year, it’s going to be rebuilding the bathroom and then hopefully I can save money towards the mortgage again!
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Holidays! New jobs! Trains! Children! And most recently, DreadBall!
What song will always remind you of 2012?
I think that I’ve completely lost music this year. It’s all gone.
Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder?
ii. richer or poorer?
A little poorer. I get paid more, but I have to pay a hell of a lot to commute by train, and Izzy started nursery this year. So it evens out a bit.
What do you wish you’d done more of?
I don’t really know. I think I did everything that I wanted to. As always, I could probably be more organised.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
I think I do need to be more organised. Then I could do more with less sleep.
How did you spend Christmas?
We had a day in the house on our own, then a day at the in-laws with a ton of food – literally, a ton of food. At the weekend, my family visited to finish Christmas off. A very, very busy year and the kids were spoiled without us spending a penny.
Where did you ring in 2012?
I think we were at home again. I write this before the new year, so I’m as far away from New Year last year as I can be! My memory isn’t good enough for that.
What was your favourite TV programme?
I think we finally got into Firefly this year. That was pretty awesome.
Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Not that I can think of!
What was the best book you read?
I haven’t read many books this year, because I’ve been pushing through the Eragon series that I got for Christmas last year. If I’m not engrossed in a book, I find it very difficult to read it quickly. That’s why I finish most Discworld books in a few days, but Eragon took me several months and Eldest even longer. I’ve been pushing really hard to get through Brisingr so I can get onto some of the other books I got last Christmas, let alone the ones I got this year!
What was your greatest musical discovery?
I’ve not heard anything new this year. If I have, I’ve not been told what it is. I tend to only hear music in clubs these days and that’s difficult to really appreciate new discoveries.
What did you want and get?
Cuba! Romania! Travel! Excitement!
What did you want and not get?
How did you earn your keep?
Still programming, but I moved jobs twice. The first time, because my department was absorbed by a larger development company in the business group. Their practices didn’t suit our team, productivity died, and the upcoming projects would be less and less interesting. Too much politics involved, so I left.
Shortly after, my former boss (and his former boss) offered me a job in Cardiff, and my first escape was not as exciting as I’d thought – the big project that they’d told me about was outsourced, the career and salary progression opportunities were… not great. It didn’t feel like they needed me, and I had done more work in the first three weeks in Cardiff than I had in the three months at this mini-escape.
What was your favourite film of this year?
The Hobbit! Or the Avengers! Or Batman! It’s a hard decision… I loved all three. We only just saw the Hobbit, in 3D HFR super fantastic awesomeness, so it’s a little unfair to ask that question since it’s so fresh in my mind.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I think I did nothing. I was twenty-eight, busy packing for our Cuban getaway.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I don’t really know. I’ve been really happy this year, overall. I don’t know about more satisfying, but in a position of absolute knowledge I would be infinitely happier if the misfortune suffered by friends over the last year hadn’t happened.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
“Do you think you need to get some new clothes now?” – everything is falling apart, and I may have to spend some money on clothes. That’ll be annoying, I hate shopping.
What kept you sane?
It’s been so longer I don’t remember what sane looks like?
What political issue stirred you the most?
I’ve not had time to look into most politics in detail this year. I don’t think I could even be described as ‘stirred’. I’m just going to keep my head down till the next election and hope we don’t end up with a choice between ineffective wanker, ineffective liar, or destructive xenophobic tosspots. Assign those labels to political parties as your personal opinions desire!

Who was the best new person you met?
I met a whole bunch of awesome people on the stag do in Romania – great guys, all of them, and a cracking weekend.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
I always knew that I liked to keep busy, but I didn’t realise just how true that was until I got to a job where things were too quiet. It drove me nuts!
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“Always move forward, going straight will get you nowhere” – partly because the rapid pace of the song sums up just how this year has flown by. Every time I look up, another month has flown by. Let’s hope things slow down a little when 2013 comes around.
What is the best thing that you were given?
Time with friends. Old friends, new friends, the whole mess of them. Great to spend time with people, individually, at a party, for a purpose or just to hang out.
I love that John (indirectly) gave me the chance to come to his stag do in Romania, and Sam gave me the chance to go to Cuba.
What is the best thing you have given someone?
I’d like to think that the holiday I gave my family was pretty awesome. I know Freddy remembers it and I hope he does for a long time. Izzy won’t remember, but she can tell her friends when she is older that she celebrated her first birthday there. That’s worth a good story.


I’ve been hooked recently on a new, unreleased game called Dreadball. It was described in a nutshell as ‘Sci-fi Blood Bowl, but nothing like Blood Bowl’. A slightly better description is that it’s a fast-paced sports game with a futuristic setting. I played a demo game of it at Cut ‘n Thrust Wargaming in Bristol, and it was a lot of fun despite being a simpler version of the game (5 players instead of 6, 3 actions per turn instead of 5 and 3 turns each instead of 7). If you ignore the reduced scope of the game because there was a lot of rules explanation, it took about 20 minutes to play almost-half-a-game. I thought that was impressive, and according to the Mantic representative, full games only take around an hour to an hour and a half to play. The basic rules were quick to learn, and I started to wonder if even Freddy could learn to play – expecting the game to take a long while to come out. The reps told us the Kickstarter had December listed as a delivery date, but that was expecting major delays from their real plan of October and it always sounds better to say something was a couple of weeks early than a few weeks late on the same day.

What I’m really looking for in a game at the moment is zero setup time (check, the board fits on a normal table and there’s no scenery) and quick play so we can squeeze games in of an evening. Being a quick game to play should also make it easy to fit into a games night alongside other games – Talisman and Order of the Stick, while being great games, really need a whole evening to play. Saying that, I still haven’t tried ‘The Shortening’ expansion for OotS, so I’ll have to try and put it into our next game night as a 90-minute capped game.

If Dreadball is as fast and easy to learn as it appears, it can be added to a games night alongside quicker favourites like Kill Dr Lucky and Unexploded Cow – but I will have to make a second pitch as it’s only a 2-player game. The extra pitches on their Kickstarter drive aren’t really cost effective enough for me, and a basic paper pitch will be easy to get together.

One thing I like is that nothing is impossible – at the last turn, it looked like I needed 3 points to win, or 2 to draw. By aiming to win, I would need to get two successes with only one dice. In most games, that would mean that winning was not an option – you can’t get two successful rolls on a single dice. In Dreadball, any roll of a 6 gives you an extra dice. While it was highly improbable that I would win (I didn’t), it was still a possibility if I was lucky enough. I tried and failed, but at least I got the option and the chance. It’s also how my opponent managed to get 8 successes out of 4 dice to knock out my Orc Guard…

After the demo game, I put down my money for the Striker! reward level, which gets (as of writing) the base game, extra models for those teams, two additional teams, about a dozen MVPs, Season 2 digital book and some models for the fifth team as well as ‘non-game’ rewards like an exclusive trophy, event ticket, poster, and stuff like that. In addition, I’m planning to use the Kickstarter to pick up the fifth and sixth teams (they are buy-one-get-one-free) and some Keeper models for the first four teams, giving me pretty much the whole range as it (almost) exists up until next Summer. A games night is being planned for next year, where I’m hoping to fit Dreadball in for a few games.

If you want to see more about the game, check out their Kickstarter page which has a gameplay video (although it is slightly dull, it’s not as good as a real demo) and a PDF file which describes typical gameplay. It’s also chock-full of pictures of what’s coming out, and links off to places like Quirkworthy where the designer of Dreadball has poured out thousands and thousands of words describing the game, the rules, the vision, etc. Very interesting stuff.

"I take off my sock" and they all ran in fear

A few months back, my fellow adventurers in 15th century France punched the planet by destroying a caravan of gunpowder pulled by the French and daemon allied army with a divinely gifted Sunspear spell. Since then, we came across the French army (slightly diminished) where they scored a major victory over the English army. In our defence, they had daemons on their side. During the battle, we were trying to infiltrate the French camp to find and kill their commanders. We found what was allegedly the Duke of Arras’ tent, surrounded by a wall of lethal darkness. Then turned around to find the Duke de Compsey, one of Arras’ lieutenants and a few of his vampire minions. They obviously tried to kill us.

The fight lasted over a session, so we lost a number of our group to other commitments. Our priest (one of the best fighters in the party) was levitated by de Compsey and was being thrown into us as a living missile. As he was being thrown however, he lashed out with his hammer at the vampires and managed to knock a vampire’s head off. Levitating priest polo, anyone?

I attempted to stab a vampire in the back (I am not an honourable chap), he incapacitated his opponents then turned to face me. As he swung, he critically fumbled and threw his sword; it critically hit the Duke de Compsey in the head, killing him. Until this point we weren’t sure how we would survive the battle – we were totally outmatched by the vampires. After the battle, I renamed my character to ‘Lucky’ Hob Davies.

In between the 15th century games, we’ve been playing a feudal Japanese roleplay based on the Runescape rules. We’d avoided a battle with a giant sea octopus, because that sounds dangerous, but circumstances conspired to bring us back to it. Circumstances in the form of a cursed Viking and his ship of zombies, summoned by a scroll to ferry us around. He took us to a patch of sea, told us we had to defeat the monster and it would be here soon, then locked us on deck. The build-up was immense, we knew this would be tough. We’d been led to this moment for ages. We’d been warned by several people about the monster. As the tentacles rose from the sea, our Mongolian guide attacked with his sling. It had strike rank 1, so went before anyone else (including the monster). He scored a critical. And laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and told us he had a special ability on his ammunition called ‘death blow on critical’. So the monster died. And we continued on our quest.

If a battle cry is something you say before battle, then his battle cry that day was “I take off my sock…”

Keeping Up Appearances

My sister is a better person than me because she does stuff for charity, whereas I sit at home and do nothing for anyone.

Every year she takes part in the Race For Life, and this year is no exception. Physical exertion in the hot summer (perhaps) to try and encourage people to donate money for a good cause. Well, the only way I can compete is by getting as many people as I can to donate to her page so I can take credit for their donations and vicariously feel like I’ve helped the charity. So if anyone wants to help me with this noble goal, the link is: www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/sarahfuller129.

I think it’s a JustGiving page, so it’s all well-known charity stuff on the internet.

Thanks in advance!

There Is No Kill Like Overkill

I’ve been playing a roleplay game based in a 15th Century Europe, based on the Runescape rules. We’ve been playing for about a year but the campaign itself started many, many years ago. It has Runescape gods, but in the guise of saints since there’s only one God and we’re all Catholics (although at this point in history, the number of Popes was debatable).

We’re all members of the King’s Own Heretic Hunters, a select regiment (mostly pious ex-convicts) who are tasked with hunting out heretics (obviously) and performing certain tasks for the King of England. So far, this has involved us going to France, unwittingly becoming pawns in the schemes of the Duke of Arras (an old nemesis in this campaign, also a vampire and the brother of William the Conqueror) and poisoning our king with foul mutating crap. We ended up having to steal the Sword of Charlemagne (note: French not too happy about this) in order to kill the king.

Of course, it is well known that the king died of dysentery. We weren’t anywhere near him. No-one suspects a thing. WINK WINK.

Since then, we’ve been attacked and captured by demons, gained a few insanity points and crippling phobias (or in one case, amnesia, which can only be overcome by beating 97 on percentile dice), gone to Germany, come back, and just last week met God.

We were travelling back to our king with evidence that France is working with demons, and the Duke of Arras has an army marching around the country. As heretic hunters, we have a duty to destroy demons (which are heretical) and vampires (also heretical), as well as the French (mildly heretical – wrong Pope). While travelling through a forest, we saw a cart transporting troops coming through, so we hid while we debated whether we could take them on – we were outnumbered heavily. Then another cart came past, and another… and another… it was clear that ‘attack’ was not a sensible strategy. Then cannon and mortars, and other large black powder weapons came past. Dozens of them. Finally, three large, guarded and well protected covered box-carts came past. Our party gunner recognised these as the gunpowder carts.

“I cast Ignite on them!” he cried triumphantly. Before working it out, our GM told us that as soldiers we’d be well aware that gunpowder is magically shielded to prevent some prat casting ‘Ignite’ on them.

“Would a Sunspear get through?”

Sunspear is a spell granted by Armalia, which creates a blast of energy doom from the Sun into a target, with the usual effect of the loss of the target. It definitely resulted in the loss of a gunpowder cart, and the explosion set off the other gunpowder carts, flattening most of the forest (see: Tunguska, although geographically this is closer to Tuscany) and wiping out half of the enemy forces.

We were hiding in the bushes 150ft away from the source of the explosion.

Thanks to a lucky ‘Divine Intervention’ roll, St Armalia returned us to life (naked, but all our equipment in a neat pile and clothes neatly folded). The only things missing were our horses and the gunner’s gunpowder.

As a result, one of our archers is now the biggest murderer in the known world, having killed over 21,000 people. I think the Duke of Arras might be a little peeved about this.

We go again tonight, and I have no idea what we’re going to do next. Quite possibly, neither does the GM.


(picture: Wittman80 on deviantart)


Ha, well I certainly couldn’t miss a post today, could I. Not after writing a review for 2009 and 2010, anyway. I’ve noticed that most years, I get one big thing and nothing else matters. Freddy in 2008, the house in 2009, and the car in 2010. Taking into account my daughter was born this year, what do you think I’ll be thinking about the most?

Did you enjoy this year?
Yes, a huge amount. I have a small baby again, Freddy continues to get more and more grown-up, and I’m getting more interesting challenges in work.

What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Had two car accidents… Had a daughter… bought a very flashy phone… went to a strip club… I usually spend a week writing this review, so I can remember the things that happened and add to them. No time, this is being done on the fly!

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My resolutions for this year were:

  1. Go swimming once a week
    Failed. I think I went swimming twice.
  2. Paint for forty-five minutes a week
    Kept it up for quite a while, but failed halfway through the year and never caught up lost time.
  3. Save money, overpay at least a month on the mortgage
    Done! And saved enough to pay for a trip to Cuba next year!
  4. More pictures on this blog!
    Well, when I posted, I posted pictures. But I didn’t post much.
  5. Spend no more than £5 a month on games
    Made it through half the year, but one computer game can knock out 7 months of the budget in one go. £5 is a little too low with the price of things nowadays.
  6. More games and games nights.
    Nope. I managed a few games of Warhammer, and dragged myself to Games Workshop and Cut and Thrust to try and get into it, but I just don’t plan ahead enough.
  7. Blog on A Year of Frugal Gaming once a month
    This is the one I’m most disappointed about not keeping. It’s not my blog, and feels like I’ve let other people down.

I will make more for this year, but with a great big holiday sitting in February, I need to consider what my resolutions will be, and work out what I want to do. More details to follow.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
As I mentioned many pregnancies last year, they all popped through this year. Old friends, cousins, and of course we had our baby in June.

Did anyone close to you die?
No, but a lot of my friends lost someone very, very close to them.

What countries did you visit?
None. City-wise, I went to London, Southampton and Portsmouth. I feel like I’ve been travelling less and less as I get older – never more than 110 miles from home.

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
More of my resolutions complete. I’m also eyeing up some large purchases in the house – we’re going to begin bending it towards what we want, rather than what we bought.

What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I would be very, very bad if I couldn’t remember the 15th June – the day that Izzy was born.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Having a daughter. She loves me.

What was your biggest failure?
Failed to keep any resolutions.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
I managed quite well through the year, only a slight hiccup in June (stress before Izzy was born dragged the immune system down) then a nasty attack of tonsillitis kept me right out of the real world for a whole week in December. Otherwise, generally managed to keep myself good.

Did you have to go to the hospital?
Check ups for the new baby, and to actually get her out (though that wasn’t the plan). Also to get Izzy’s tongue-tie cut, twice. And it might have grown back.

What was the best thing you bought?
My new phone. Although it was free on a contract. And I bought the flights to Cuba this year, but won’t actually go until February.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
The kids, and many many other people.

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Stanislaw Burzynski, for reasons that link will make apparent. Google (or Bing) for more, there’s lots out there. If you’re going to take advantage of cancer sufferers for financial gain, you have to accept that people will call you on it – the correct response is not to threaten legal action.

Most of our government, for more selfish reasons.

Where did most of your money go?
Mostly house stuff. A big chunk on our holiday, and it’ll totally be worth it.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Elizabeth! And the fact that she can digest with vomiting!

What song will always remind you of 2011?
Jessie-J, Pricetag. I heard an awesome live version in the car on my way to Portsmouth. Alongside that, I loved Swede Mason’s Masterchef Synaesthesia (Buttery Biscuit Bass). Find it on Youtube.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder?

ii. richer or poorer?
About the same.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
More of my resolutions. More games of Warhammer.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Watching DVDs. We’ve burned through almost all of DS9 and Voyager this year.

How did you spend Christmas?
In Portsmouth with my parents. Then a week doing almost nothing, and finally a long car drive back to Bristol with the car absolutely filled to the brim with toys.

Where did you ring in 2011?
At home, as is normal now. I went out at midnight to chat with some neighbours, then went back to bed.

What was your favourite TV programme?
I wouldn’t say favourite, but the only new thing we watched this year was the Big Bang Theory.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

What was the best book you read?
I just finished reading Snuff, I thought that was awesome. I liked PG Wodehouse (Code of the Woosters) but I think that may have been last year.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Swede Mason, Tim Minchin and Jessie-J. I don’t really follow music so that’s about it.

What did you want and get?
A daughter! I know everyone says that they don’t mind, but I’ve got one of each now.

What did you want and not get?
A daughter on my birthday. She was due the day after, but turned up 4 days late.

How did you earn your keep?
Still programming.

What was your favourite film of this year?
Didn’t see any new films. Next year, I will be watching at least The Hobbit. We must start getting to the cinema again!

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 27 – I was probably ill, and waiting on tenterhooks for my wife to give birth.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I can’t think of anything other than actually completing any of my resolutions.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
”OK, those clothes are literally falling apart on you.” I can see 2012 as the year I need to buy a new wardrobe before my fashion concept is “it was good enough for the monkeys…”

What kept you sane?
Dark, quiet rooms when everyone is out. I can really appreciate not doing anything these days.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Mostly the phrase “we’re all in this together”, except that obviously we’re not. For example, Occupy movements and public sector strikes are seen as selfish, and not being all in this together, but the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. “All in this together” also means not chipping in and helping our European neighbours sort themselves out, when their possible collapse will deeply affect us. I don’t know what the right course of action really is, I just feel like the Prime Minister doesn’t either. All I know is that we’re not all in this together.

Aside from that, my obsession with media-watch blogs has kept me very very interested in the Leveson Inquiry. I really hope we get what we need from it.

Who was the best new person you met?
Does Izzy count?

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
Keep your mouth shut.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“I’m having trouble trying to sleep…” and the rest of it, by Green Day. I think the song is called Brain Stew.

What is the best thing that you were given?
Aside from the baby?

A new job role – away from websites, and more into infrastructure things. Bigger challenges, more room for personal growth.

What is the best thing you have given someone?
I gave Freddy a sister, and my family a holiday (coming soon!)

It’s Oh So Quiet…


On Wednesday 15th June, at 15:45, my daughter Elizabeth was born!

She is gorgeous, and looks a lot like her brother when he was new. She weighed 6lb 2oz.

It was a very strange day – our son was a (planned) home birth, and we’d looked into getting a birthing pool. Unfortunately, they are expensive to buy or hire, and we lived in a smaller house then so there wasn’t space for one. Southmead Hospital (the premier maternity ward in the area) had a pool, but it couldn’t be reliably booked (babies don’t normally conform to schedules). Add to that he was due at the end of November, and the associated problems with keeping a large body of water warm in a cheap house at that time of year. We scrapped the idea, had a lovely home birth, and completely forgot about it for Elizabeth.

On the day, we happened to be in hospital for a quick check up and assessment. They finished with “we can see you want a homebirth, so we’ll just get your notes ready and you can go.” By the time they came out with all the discharge paperwork, the contractions had come on thick and fast and we weren’t sure we’d make it home in the morning traffic before the baby decided to arrive, so we asked to stay and deliver in the hospital.

At this time, all the visions that made us want a home birth came back – the beginning of Monty Python’s Meaning Of Life being among them (the machine that goes ping, etc etc). We’re practical people, and always knew that we might not get what we wanted, so we were prepared to just knuckle down and take it. However, since our notes had ‘home birth’ listed on them, the midwives made a point to check the availability of the birth suite in the hospital. A birth suite is a bit more of a home from home than the ward, with separate kitchen and bathroom facilities, living room type rooms to deliver in, and a more comfortable environment in the middle of the hospital. Like having a home birth, with the machine that goes ping on standby down the corridor if it’s needed. After a few phone calls, they worked out it was empty but could be staffed. Result!

As we were being shown the suite, the student midwife showed us the rooms and said “and the room at the end has the birthing pool.” My wife’s ears pricked up. “Can we have that?” she asked.

So a completely unplanned water birth, which was a million miles from what we expected. A hospital delivery with no problems, mother and baby are doing brilliantly (if tired) and daddy and the little man are adjusting well too.

I’m back to work on Wednesday, but I’ve booked off Thursday and Friday for the next few weeks to settle in with everyone, since those are the days that Freddy is home from nursery and I can’t leave mum with both the kids on her own so soon! It’ll be a wonderful short week then!