Category: Jibber-jabber


Fishing – the art of sitting still…

fishing float

If you know me you’d be forgiven for thinking fishing isn’t exactly a past-time that would suit me…but oddly it does. I suppose as a kid it appeared on my radar due to the fact my father and a few other men in the little village we lived fished. So having received a starter rod and reel for Christmas and after much pestering from my brother and I, my father eventually agreed to take us. Okay…my first taste of fishing completely underwhelmed me – what a let down. To my mind the sneaky little buggers were far to hard to catch and I’d imagined it to be far easier and far more entertaining.

To be honest I was only ever entertained as a kid when day dreaming about flesh eating plants, or dungeons full of goblins and dragons. So fishing never really stood much of a chance. This was compounded by the fact when someone, in this case my father, does 90% of the task in hand you fail to appreciate or enjoy its finer points. Really that translates to most things. Simply put, if you do it yourself you enjoy what you’re done all the more.

I’m not entirely sure how long it was after the half dozen failed trips with my father before I dabbled in fishing again, but I’d guess it was a couple of years. However, this time I followed my brother. I suppose the failed trips were as much my fault for being the child equivalent of an unhinged springer spaniel, tongue lolling out the side of my mouth as I sped from one thing to the next, as it was my fathers. He wasn’t a good teacher and ADHD wasn’t even considered back then. Despite that I grew to enjoy fishing and having to do it for myself made my efforts all the more valuable. I suppose in some way it reinforced the idea that there is no point doing something unless you put effort into it. Actually, I say enjoy fishing but as a kid I loved it. The peacefulness and tranquillity really struck a chord with me and for once I could sit still and watch the morning unfold. To behold an early rising carp as it silently ascended out of the gloomy amber water like a wide eyed ghost, coupled with the mist as it crept across the surface was memorising.

I decided to take Luke fishing to see how he cope…how we’d cope. Catherine and myself are worried Luke is on the ADD/ADHD spectrum and while that isn’t an unsurmountable problem, we don’t want it to get in the way of his schooling. The other day wasn’t the first time Luke has been fishing but the last time was about a year and a half ago so I assumed most of what he’d picked up would have been pushed out by Minecraft or something or other. He did remember little bits and started brightly. However, after snagging the trees several times and almost getting thrown in to the pond Luke had a time out. After the time out had given him the chance to concentrate on the job at hand he was awesome. His casting improved massively and before long he looked every inch a pro. Out of all the six fish he caught he did everything himself: he baited up his hooks, untangled his snags and removed the hook from each of his fish.

Even when I hooked a 6 or 7lb carp Luke didn’t hesitate wanting to lend a hand. Under instruction Luke plunged the landing the into the water and tried scooping up the exhausted fish. For a moment things looked good and I imagined Luke smiling from ear to ear as he lifted the fish from the net. But no, that didn’t happen. To make matters worse on the cramped little fishing stint a small dog appeared at our feet seemingly interested in the commotion. In his urgency Luke swooped, bludgeoned the carp, tangle the tackle and snapped the line… Glory was gone in one final flick of its broad tail. Did I care? Not one bit. We were having fun and that’s all that matters.

Luke won the fish off 6 gudgeon to 3 gudgeon and 2 roach. We’ll not mention the carp.

What-proof-rich-tea Biscuits, WTF!!

rich-tea

Right, I feel the need to warn you as this part of the post might wander a little…

About a year or so ago I was unlucky enough to pick up salmonella while out with friends. As if the subsequent 8 hours of projectile vomiting, five days of feeling awful and time spent on the toilet wasn’t enough, I managed to knock out a crown when I accidently head-butted the tap. Not my best moment. The after effects of this bout of food poisoning came in the guise of a new intolerance to gluten. Mother fu…. I love bread and pasta…not to mention dunking biscuits!

My sister in law told me Lorcan, my brother in law, had picked up a stomach bug that left him with similar symptoms to mine, but after a visit to the doctors and a subsequent antibiotic course, he made a full recovery. So, off to the doctors, yeah? No, I’m not one for visiting the doctors often – even when I should. Instead my wife, who is a nurse, came home from work where a colleague of hers is currently doing an assignment on food allergies and mentioned a supplement designed to help the gut recover from infections and other such nasty stuff. So I’ve been taking one of those tablets every day. It turns out while my intolerance has lessened; I’m still not able to eat white bread. I am, however, able to eat biscuits it seems!!

While testing out to see if I could manage a biscuit (or twelve) I reached for the packet of rich tea in the cupboard gathering dust. Who’d have thought The Belmont Biscuit company not only make their product using ‘No artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives’ but that also make the buggers from water proof flour!! I mean come on. You just can’t dunk one of those. Dunking is all in the wrist. You submerge a tester for a few seconds and when you see tea being draw up from the cup, you know it’s done. Theses biscuits refuse to act accordingly. As a result you’re left with either a cup of sludge or a still crunchy morsel! Unacceptable!

Matt..

scales-finding-balance-620x350

Not sure if I’m best qualified to write on this subject? But sod it, here is my two-penneth worth. 

I decided to write this blog after reading an article on the BBC sport site this morning. The article claimed the English FA are “overwhelmingly male and white”. Firstly the laziness of such a statement got right under my skin. Secondly, I couldn’t give a flying f*** if the savior of English football/sport happens to be black, white, German or Argentinian. Really, I don’t care. 

While I fully agree the non-white English minority need more representation across all sports played in this country, their position cannot be overstated. It shouldn’t be about us and them, it should be about a united England.

Take the current test series being played between England and India as an example. You’d be forgiven for thinking England are the ones on tour given the amount of Indian support. While I’m not saying you have to abandon your heritage to live in this country, I wonder if you gave English born minorities had greater representation then we’d see stronger and more diverse English cricket team? I’m convinced we would. 

Take that idea and apply it to all sports.

Honestly I don’t much like referring to any Englishmen as a minority. To me it’s the beginnings of separation that leads to segregation and mistrust. Aren’t all those born in England, English? Daily Thompson and Ian Botham were my childhood idols. It didn’t even dawn on me as a small boy that Thompson was black. Even when I found out it just didn’t matter. To me he was every bit the Englishman I wanted to become. 

A persons race or gender shouldn’t matter but unfortunately it seems to. I know so because after I’d applied to the fire brigade I was told by a disillusioned fireman at the time, I’d have a better chance of getting in if I were a black lesbian. Did that dent my optimism? No, not really. Did I use it as an excuse when I failed to get in? Nope, not one bit. Shit happens and you get on with it.

While all I’ve just said might just sound like generic politically correct dogma, it’s something I believe in.

I love rugby and I love my country. Christ, I failed to get halfway through the national anthem on either occasion I’ve been to Twickenham to watch England. I had to stop singing for fear of blubbing. The hairs stood up all over when the stadium reverberated to the sound of eighty thousand voices. It was awesome.

However, my son is half Irish and should he ever be good enough to play international rugby and chose to play for Ireland rather than England, then I’d be wearing the green of Ireland come game day – even against England.

Matt..

Ps, don’t read between the lines, it’s what you’re thinking, not what they’re trying to say. Also, I’ve tried proofing this but my daughter has a friend over and they’re jumping off the bed-box on to the bed…

Weaponise my little darlings? What in the name of Crom is he wibbling about!?!

Well, my avid readers ever eager for my worldly wisdom and lashings of tomfoolery, what am I talking about? I’m talking about the scourge of humanity, the end of days and the hammer of damnation; I’m referring to the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!!!

Are you safe? Do you think you’re ready, do you?? Well, we at the Thomas foundation are…ish.

Okay, some of you might now be thinking I’ve misplaced my keen sense of reality, but no!! I have proof the undead are set to rise from their graves and suck the brains through your nose!! Am I mad? No, not at all. After all the medication following the accident has all but stopped the twitching episodes g@F:Freggggggg..fg,.s’GSD..fg… Well, almost.

Watch this dude on YouTube. Not only is he really entertaining, but he is while I’m typing he’s developing weapons with which to counter the legions of undead!!

https://www.youtube.com/user/JoergSprave

Another defensive stalwart is this next guy. While he might only be honing his zombie take down on line, at least he’s preparing. I urge you to watch this guy as he is really amusing and who knows, you might learn something that may save your life.

https://www.youtube.com/user/FRANKIEonPCin1080p

If you’re still with me this far then I know what you’re thinking, but you’d be wrong. I’ve not been at the cat litter again (it gets stuck in my teeth) and I packed up drinking along time ago when I got married; obviously…

 

My contribution to the cause is that of chief weapon smith – I made all the swords, etc – and have taken it upon myself to temper my prodginy! Currently I have both my kids on a grueling close combat training regime designed to maximize both body count and survive-ability come judgement day. It makes Krav Maga training look like a toe nail painting seminar.

 

Firstly I burred them without food or water for three days and nights in the back garden. While they ‘endured’, I made them eat all their vegetables and flogged them with the socks, pants and other items of clothing they constantly leave strewn about their bedrooms.  While this might sound barbaric to some, I needed to know if they have the metal to complete the training. You’ll be happy to know they both passed with flying colours!

 

Subject: Lilly Thomas. Code name ‘The pink bulldozer’.

 

Image

Image

 

Lilly in mid attack. The training dummy didn’t stand a chance.

 

Judging by the unbridled savagery in Lilly’s eyes, it seems my draconian methods worked. Biting, of which she as taken to, isn’t allowed. During the last two weeks of boot-camp, I’d like a pound for every time she’s sunk her teeth into me. My fingers, arms, face and back are a patchwork testament to not only Lilly’s jaw strength but her inability to follow simple instructions! She is whirling dervish and thus a work in progress.

 

Subject: Luke Thomas. Code name ”Hair helmet”.

 

ImageImage

Luke, being gentler by nature, was harder to train I struggled for days trying to find his inner ungowa! Who’d have thought a child with no volume control would take to espionage like a window licker to a green-house! Once he mastered the art of camouflage their was no stopping him!! Now I dare not wander the house at anytime without the means to protect myself for fear he’ll strike with blinding speed and deadly accuracy.

So, The Thomas foundation are ready. Are you?

 

Matt..

 

 

PS, next project…home made ballistic weapons!!

2000AD.

2000AD..

Image

 

Dayz, what’s that then? I hear you ask. The short answer is it’s a first person shooter game. The long answer is a long one, so here goes.

 

I’d seen Dayz advertised dozens of times whilst browsing through Steam and although it interested me enough to update my payment details, I never felt hooked enough to completed the purchase. That changed when a mate took the plunge and tried convincing me to join in. So, still undecided, I thought to look on YouTube to see if I could find anything.

Anything? How about EVERYTHING. Their are possibly thousands of user video blogs about Dayz on YouTube but the blogs that stood out the most were by a guy called FRANKIEonPCin1080p.

 

Here is a link to his YouTube page http://www.youtube.com/user/FRANKIEonPCin1080p. Feel free to browse, I’m sure he’ll not mind.

 

Honestly this guy had me laughing along with him throughout all his daft episodes. One that springs to mind was when he helped a player who thought he was Morgan Freeman. It was Frankie’s sense of humor and enjoyment that sold the game to me.

 

So I decided to purchased the game… While being no pro player, I’m also no uber noob when it comes to adrenaline pumping first person shooters, so, foolishly, I thought I knew what was to come. However, I was wrong, really, really wrong.

For those unknowing types out there, Dayz is a game based upon the popular Arma format and shares, so I’m told, many of its quirks and oddities. Arma, although I’ve never played it, I believe is considered a more realistic FPS and I suppose lends itself to Dayz reality based experience perfectly.

 

Incidentally, if you’re considering buying Dayz standalone then don’t be put off by the naysayers moaning about its bugs, etc. Okay it really gets tedious falling off ladders or moon walking backwards from the top of a building but give the game a little room as it’s still only in alpha testing and is bound to be somewhat rough around the edges. Personally I believe if you persevere with it and you’ll find it rewarding…mostly.

 

Game play –

 

You start life as a beleaguered survivor stranded on a Russian beach dressed only in basic clothing. Yep, that’s right, no gun, no nade, no stabby/bashy weapon and most definitely no air support. Bummer. If that isn’t bad enough your character Immediately tells you you’re both hungry and thirsty. Get use to it; life’s hard surviving in a post zombie apocalypse!

Unsure what to do I wandered off the beach and towards what looked like a road away in the distance. Scanning the horizon to get a better idea of what to do next, I noticed in the distance a blurry silhouette moving rapidly towards me.

I’d picked up enough from the clips to know Dayz is an mmo of sorts but being greener than grass, I thought I’d made game content contact already. Job done, now you may lead me to our destination and to food. Also, where’s my map? However, it wasn’t a player or an NPC coming to lead me by the hand, fuck no. I quickly realized by the inhuman wailing and the bandy legged run that it was a zombie. Without waiting I decided to try and out run it. I’ve seen enough zombie films to know talking to them most often leads to you having your brain sucked out through your eye socked. And with no weapon to protect myself panic set in and I sped off down the road. I felt somewhat happier thinking the road might lad me to safety and having the zombie trailing in my slip stream. As I continued to run the total lack of human presence became extremely eerie. Everywhere I looked were signs of past existence but nothing present. A undecipherable, weather worn road sign here, a burnt out car an over turned trash can there, but nothing that had me thinking I was in anything other than a wasteland. With the growing sense of isolation almost complete another zombie burst from the bushes and chased me down the road. The constant threat of zombie attacks coupled with my bleak surroundings strengthened my sense of helplessness and complete isolation. Here I was in an unrecognizable land with no map, no food and no clue what to do next. Shit.

 

First contact – (In truth this next bit wasn’t my first spawn, it was my second. I chose this for obvious reasons especially as falling off a ladder only to break both legs and get eaten by zombies isn’t very rock and roll, is it?)

 

Although, like I’ve already said, I’d watched a few Dayz YouTube clips but hadn’t yet go around to the ones telling you what to do should you meet other players. My bad…

Upon reaching a generic looking building I saw three figures quickly making their way towards me. I guessed they had to be players because they didn’t move like zombies. As soon as one of the guys came close enough he began communicate through proximity chat. First he asked if I was new and did I need any food or water. For a moment I though. ‘Wow, what luck, these guys are pretty cool…’

While distracted one of the three walked around me and slapped on a pair of cuffs. Once done he joined in the discussion by asking, ‘Yeah, you need anything, like a key.’

The bastard cuffed me! Why? I had nothing worth stealing. Now I could see they were well tooled up dressed in camo gear, back packs, webbing and rifles on there backs. Not sure what was coming next I responded with something like, ‘Yeah, real funny. Can I go now.’ There response was  brutal but not entirely unexpected; as the game plunges you into a lawless situation where you choose how to survive. Both guys in front of me proceeded to yell abuse at me while beating seven shades of crapola out of me with baseball bats. Still at that point I honestly thought they’d uncuff me and let me go. That was until the player with a deep southern American accent began shouting so excitedly down the mic that he became completely incomprehensible. It ended as quickly as it started with a shot to the back of my head.

 

Still reeling I re-spawned back on the beach. It was only they I realized my heart rate had gone through the roof. I could hear my pulse hammering away in my throat. Believe me I’m not lying when I say the game can be that intense. Okay so after 80+ hours the intensity level does drop a touch but remains tangible. When you’ve just spent 5 to 10 hours getting equipped the last thing you want is to happen is to be killed for what you’ve salvaged. Since I’ve been playing I’ve been killed over a dozen times when trying to offer a hand of friendship towards strangers in the game. So, I guess, some of the bandits out there can be forgiven somewhat for simply loosing their nerve and shooting first. Don’t get me wrong, mind, their are plenty of player killers that take way too much pleasure in running down a new spawn of mobbing a solo operators. The three shining examples of camaraderie I’ve personally witnessed tend to stay with you more than the treachery. Some Russian lads gave me a scope for my rifle when I approached them, weapon down. I’ve tagged along on two separate clans and been kindly shown the ropes. The first was an English based clan and were really cool. The second, the one I join mostly, are made up mainly of Brits, Norwegians and a nutty Dane. It’s these small successes that keep you coming back. Sure fire fights over territory and in self-defense are great fun but all said everything that happens in the game empowers it.

 

Here is a link to our Dayz server – https://www.gametracker.com/server_info/80.243.125.54:2302/

 

Summery – I’m really enjoying Dayz at the moment. Okay it can get bloody annoying when a glitch kills you, or some stranger wipes you out for no reason and the lack of map does get right on my tits, but I try not to let these get me down for long. Dayz is brutal and unforgiving. I’m kind of bored of games with armies of npcs designed to walk you through the plot or those that dish up wave after wave of AI bots for you to waste. Dayz isn’t a mmo social raiding club, nor is it a full throttle first person shooter. No, it’s all of the above but one where you choose how best to survive. You can either play by eking out a meager existence and avoiding busy servers, band up with friendlies and dole out a help and death in equal measure or, should you want, you could always choose to be a man hunter and kill indiscriminately. Either way works as the game’s got room for everyone.

Dayz is gritty, harsh but rewarding if you play it well.

 

Anyway, I feel better for playing Dayz as now I have a far better zombie apocalypse contingency plan…

 

Matt..