Wednesday, 18 May 2016

My Analysis of The Queens Speech

New powers for prison governors, more independence for prisons and an overhaul of education, health and training to reduce reoffending (prison and courts reform bill)

Is more independence for prisons a good idea? Framework for further privatization?

Academies expanded in the poorest local areas and setting the foundations for a system in which all schools are academies (education for all bill)

I they U-turned on this? It's back?

New fair funding formula for schools to even out differences in urban and rural education (education for all bill)

A good thing?

Stronger powers to disrupt extremists and protect the public, including a civil order regime, Ofcom regulation for internet-streamed television and intervention in unregulated religious schools (counter-extremism and safeguarding bill) 

One year they take them away, the next they give them back. Unregulated schools? Why are there unregulated schools?!

Prioritising permanent adoption over short-term placements (children and social work bill) 

Good thing.

New care leavers’ covenant to make sure children leaving care have better support (children and social work bill) 

Good thing.

Making it easier for new universities to open and reforming funding to link it to the quality of teaching rather than student numbers (higher education and research bill) 

Privatizing education and giving more money to their mates.

Bill of rights to replace Human Rights Act (Consultation) 

Absolutely disgusting. There should be riots in the streets.

Surveillance powers for the spy agencies and other government bodies to monitor people’s online communications when investigating crime or terrorism (investigatory powers bill) 

Absolutely disgusting. There should be riots in the streets.

Duty on police, ambulance and fire services to collaborate to improve efficiency (policing and crime bill) 


Police chiefs allowed to give policing powers to volunteers and backroom staff so that they can make best use of the workforce (policing and crime bill) 

Unpaid, untrained, un-accountable police. Vigilantes? 

The right to a broadband connection for every household and automatic compensation if the connection goes wrong (digital economy bill) 

No one is going to get compensation.

Protection of children from online pornography by requiring age verification on the internet for adult material (digital economy bill) 


Protection for consumers from spam email and nuisance calls by ensuring consent is obtained for direct marketing (digital economy bill) 

This already exists and they just get around it with clever wording.

Allowing driverless cars on to the roads and an operational spaceport (modern transport bill) 

Until someone dies.

Speeding up the planning process (neighbourhood planning and infrastructure bill) 

So they can build that 17th swimming pool they desperately need to keep Quentin and Tarquin quiet.

Allowing councils to keep up to 100% of the business rates they collect (local growth and jobs bill) 


Laws enabling the new Help to Save scheme, which is designed to help those from low incomes to build up savings (lifetime savings bill) 

Unless the government are giving them money to save, this isn’t going to work.

Expanding the national citizen service and duty on schools to promote the scheme to all young people (national citizen service bill) 

The what? When was this introduced? What is it? It sounds terrible. My kids will not be allowed to join this.

New criminal offence for corporations that fail to stop staff facilitating tax evasion and measures to allow the government to recoup more illicit income (criminal finances bill) 

Corporations. Not individuals. So Dave and his mates can’t go to prison.

Local mayors to get power to improve bus services and London-style powers to franchise local services. Data on routes, fares and times to be made freely available (bus services bill) 

This is the councils job not one person. Unless they’re just changing the name of the mayors to Chief Executive In Charge of Local Buses.

Energy and utility companies to enable faster switching for consumers (better markets bill) 

They’ve been announcing this for years.

Measures to make sure the NHS recovers the cost of treating migrants more effectively (NHS overseas visitors charging bill) 

And I’m sure we pay every penny for all the Brits treated abroad yeah?

Clamping down on excess exit charges and providing protections for people whose pensions are invested in master trusts (pensions bill) 

I have no idea what this means. I don’t have a pension. I should probably get one. How do I do that?

Levy on the soft drinks industry starting in 2018 (finance bill 2017) 


New offences to stop dealing in property looted from war zones (cultural property armed conflict bill) 


Clarifying division of responsibility between the Welsh assembly and Westminster, and devolution of energy, transport and electoral powers (Wales bill) 

This means that they are doing absolutely nothing. And talking a lot about it.

Descriptions and picture borrowed from The Guardian's Queen's speech 2016: the key points explained.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

I joined a political party

I've nearly always voted Labour, apart from that one time when I was a student and the Liberals were promising something good to do with tuition fees so I voted selfishly. Look how that turned out. I voted Labour because the were the one big party that represented my views the most. I never really paid much attention to the smaller parties, because I knew they didn't have a chance of being voted to power. And therein lies the paradox for smaller parties. You may agree with what they're saying but you don't vote for them, because they won't get in and so they don't and they remain a small party and so it goes on.

I bet if any of my readers actually read the Green Party's manifesto they'd wonder why every party wasn't promising the same things. It's reads like a list of "Oh, of course that's what we should do! Why aren't we doing that already?!" They are not "I think think this is the best we can realistically achieve" policies. They how our country and indeed the world should be like.

So I'm breaking the cycle. I'm putting all my eggs in one basket and I'm voting Green. I've joined and I'm supporting them financially. If my vote and my money can help them get one AM in to the Welsh Assembly this year, then the Green voice will be heard in the Senedd. If you vote for them, it will show that their support is increasing and maybe next time around they will put forward more candidates for selection and campaign better in your area to get more votes. If everyone who's ever thought about voting Green but thought it might be a wasted vote, breaks the trend and actually votes for them, then some real progress could be made. Imagine if they even got as far as being a minority party in a coalition in Wales. Like it or not but we can now really see how much the Liberals were holding back the Torys in the Westminster government. The Tories have done more damage in one year on their own that they did in the time they were in coalition. Greens really could make a difference and especially as they'd likely be in coalition with another party on the same side of the political spectrum as them.

I understand tactical voting and I'm terrified that UKIP are going to get way too many AMs this time around. The polls are so depressing. But I implore you to vote with your conscience and send a message to the Greens that you support them, so that they grow in number and confidence and can slowly take more of a grasp on our political landscape. It's not going to happen over night, but we can make a difference for the future.

Please vote Green in the Assembly elections on the 5th of May 2016.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Experimenting With Drugs

On the advice of my mum, I've started taking my pills at night instead of in the morning. For the past couple of weeks I've been so tired during the day, to the point of nearly falling asleep. Playing the PlayStation only until about nine. Ridiculous. So I'm experimenting.

Today I feel good. I'm in a good mood. I'm not so tired. Only a mild headache. If this works out, it'll be really good for me. Then I've only got my stomach problems to deal with. Been feeling really bloated of late in what I think is my large intestine and especially after eating. It's been going on for a good few weeks now. Coinciding with my dosage going up, but that could just be a coincidence. Could be constipation, IBS, a hernia... Who knows. I should probably see a doctor about that huh?

Hopefully going out with friends on Friday if plans don't change. Should be good. Going to experiment with not drinking or only having three bottles of something at most. I've figured that's about as much as I can drink without it affecting my mood too much the next day. I'm really not good with alcohol. Once it's in me, I have no will power left and I could keep drinking all night. I will try my best.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

'The Witch' Review


I'm not usually one to watch too many trailers but when a friend invited me to see The Witch, I didn't know anything at all about so I indulged. I don't understand how people have complained about this film not being a mainstream horror flick. The trailer to me suggested 'Antichrist' meets 'There Will Be Blood' and that's exactly what it was. The Witch is not a mainstream horror film. In fact it's not a horror film at all. What it is, is an sustained, ninety minute assault on the senses.

From the title and the trailer, I gleaned that there might be something about witches in the film. Within the first five minutes of the film, there was no ambiguity left. There was a witch and it wasn't going to end well for anyone, especially the audience. The sense of constant dread, assisted by the continuous rise and fall of atonal violins, started almost immediately and continued throughout. There was hardly a reprieve. Even when the the music faded away for a moment, the dull colour and lighting carried the feeling through.

It is an uncomfortable watch. Possibly only one scene (you know the one) away from being Antichrist's level of uncomfortable. When I saw Antichrist at the cinema, I was so affected by the film both physically and emotionally, I just had to own it when it came out on DVD. It's still in it's cellophane wrapper. I can't bring myself to watch it again. I would definitely watch The Witch again. I went to the cinema very tired from late night gaming and child waking and I was afraid I would be nodding off by the end of the film. There was no chance of that. My eyes were wide open all the way through and I was actually on the edge of my seat for most of it. That sense of constant dread demanding my attention and me giving it, gladly.

There's hardly a nice scene in the film. Even if it began with with a benign conversation, something dreadful inevitably happened by the end. My wife, since having children of our own, is not a fan of films where children are harmed. If you are of the same disposition, I would suggested avoiding The Witch like the plague. The children are the main focus of the film and all are very good actors. You know how it is with child actors. Well they didn't have any problems in that department. They were believable and terrifying.

I haven't quite settled on what I think the themes The Witch was trying to explore. I've read that it has a very strong feminist message and that the ending of the film gave a feeling of elation and relief for some. I certainly didn't experience those emotions. I was as disturbed by the end as I was at the beginning. For me the strongest them in the film was religion and Christian belief that we are born in to sin and must spend our lives repenting in order to gain Christs favour and access to Heaven. The family's belief that sin must be punished was so strong that perhaps they gave form to that punishment and wrought upon themselves. Or perhaps it was just a film about a witch.

The dialogue was old timey and at times, difficult to understand. Not a massive problem. I always got the gist. As the film ended, a message popped up to say that most of the dialogue was lifted from diaries and court accounts of the time. In retrospect this gives enormous credence to the dialogue and the narrative of the film and makes it all the more terrifying.

My only gripe with the film is a technical one. It was filmed at a high frame rate. I don't know why this is becoming the norm in cinema. To me it looks like a cheap TV movie shot of video. The argument is, is that it makes it look more real and true to life. Well I don't want that thank you very much. Film is a medium of escapism. I want that filter of twenty four frames per second to give it a detached and dreamlike appearance. But in this instance, the film itself was so engrossing, I did stop noticing by the end.

Since being diagnosed with depression and being on medication, I have found that films have less effect on me emotionally. I can't cry at sad films any more. What I've always enjoyed about the medium of film, is it's power to have a physical and an emotional effect on the audience. The Witch managed to penetrate my protective layer of medication and move me in the way that I wanted to. This is a powerful film. My friends and I sat in silence for a moment and sighed in relief when it was over. If you want to be truly moved by a film, this is the film for you.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Camping, Ceredigion and La Calabria

Over the Easter holidays we went camping in Ceredigion. The main reason for picking the area was because someone in work had recommended a restaurant to me, La Calabria. The reason for camping is because we're totally broke at the moment but we needed a bloody holiday. The forecast was awful. In for another storm. Laura could have been a nightmare. She's definitely a fair weather camper.

The evening we got there was clear and mild and we pitched the tent quickly, had a chat with the campsite owner, a woman from Leeds who'd lived in Italy for the past twenty something years. Then we headed to Llangrannog. It was a beautiful evening and the sun was setting as we explored the smuggler's cave and had an ice cream.

The next day and the storm did come but no where near as bad as we thought it would. We meandered around Ceredigion towns, visited Caws Cenarth and ate lots of cheese and found a play centre for the kids. We stayed there quite a long time, I don't know how I didn't go mad.

Maybe it was because in the back of my mind I had the promise of an Italian meal at La Calabria looming that evening. It's a funny place. Right in the middle of nowhere on a farm. You actually have to go down a farm track to find it. When you do, it looks like a bad extension or Granny flat or something, built on the side of a farmhouse. Inside is a lot nicer with a fantastic bar to welcome you.

The story behind the place is really interesting. During the Second World War an Italian soldier was captured and taken to a prisoner of war camp in Wales. After the war he headed straight back to Italy but quickly developed a home sickness for Wales. He moved back here and bought a farm and settled down. Now three generations of the same family have lived on that farm where the restaurant is situated. All speak Italian and Welsh.

The food had a very home cooked feel to it. Mama was in the kitchen. It's pitched as fine dining, but I didn't get that vibe. I guess maybe for the country in the middle of nowhere, that is fine dining. But to me it was just good old fashioned home cooking. I had chicken Marsala. Chicken marinated in Marsala wine and then cooked in a Marsala sauce with roast potatoes and green beans. I've never had anything quite like it. The closest thing I've ever had is chicken satay from a Malaysian. Really interesting and very tasty.

The next day was a little better again and we randomly ended up in Castell Henllys which is somewhere I've been going to for years every time I'm in the that part of the world. I didn't even know we were near it. It was Easter Sunday so there were people in costume, face painting and a birds of prey exhibition. It was great.

So we all had a good time and that was rather unexpected to be honest. We were dreading it ever so slightly but also aware that we really needed to get away. The Easter Bunny managed to find us, so the kids didn't miss out either.

Since then I've been in  a bit of a funk. Finished Farcry Primal and bored of Destiny, I don't really have a game I'm playing properly at the moment which is my usual go to activity if I'm feeling down.

We're trying to get Irvy off the boob at night so I am getting up with him at the moment, which I'm really struggling with the next day. He gets me up about three time during the night and I've gotta go lie with him until he falls asleep. Hopefully after a week or two it'll work out.

That's about it for now so...

Take care x

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Greggs, Camping and Daredevil

Last week Porro, this week Greggs. I'm no food snob... Well ok, I am a food snob but Greggs is one I let slide. So lunch today was a completely tasteless sausage roll (Tesco's one are much better, more salt) and a nuclear hot chicken pasty with actual radioactive isotopes in it. It was so hot it could melt through a starship door faster than a lightsaber. And it had at least four bits of actual chicken in it. The "white coffee" was so bitter and tasted like cardboard. I actually had to throw that away. But in spite of all this, I'll be back for the same thing (maybe not the coffee) again and again. For pudding I had two chocolate digestives from the work kitchen. Couldn't bring myself to buy three food items from Greggs. What would people think?!

Off camping to west Wales tomorrow. It's gonna rain all long weekend. Fun. But I'm determined to have fun as this'll likely be our only holiday this year. We'll take board games to keep me and Laura entertained and alcohol for the kids... That's the right way around, right? Have found a secret Italian restaurant on a farm that has been run by three generations of Italians. We've booked a meal there. I'll report back. Trying desperately to find indoor things to do in the area. It'll be fine.

Enjoying the second series of Daredevil on Netflix. Half way through it. Elektra's casting is perfect as is the Punisher. Really enjoying it. Maybe not quite as stylish as season one and there was no need for the gimmicky and obviously not one shot, one shot fight scene... again.

Also enjoying playing the new DLC for Star Wars Battlefront. Surprised at how much I've been playing this game. Don't think I would be if I wasn't playing with my dad and two brother's though. They are what make it fun. Just constant piss taking.

So that's it. That's you all caught up with my exciting life. See you after chocolate Jesus weekend.

Take care x

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Porro Review

It was out ninth anniversary last week. We booked an early meal at Porro in Llandaf, Cardiff. It's an "Italian-ish" restaurant that specialises in Italian food and Italian inspired Welsh food. Porro is the Italian word for leek, the national Welsh vegetable. We've been there before for my birthday last year where we massively over indulged and drank cocktails, wine, prosecco and ate copious amount of food including the best duck breast I've ever had. No exaggeration. This time there was more prosecco on the table for us when we arrived. This is not something that they do for everyone, but we happen to live next door to the owners. Win. Also, this is the best prosecco I've ever had. No exaggeration.

To start with we had a mix of three dishes that we shared. A salt cod pate with sour dough which wasn't anywhere anywhere near as salty or fishy as I thought it might be. It was actually very light, easy eating. We also had two cheese dishes. A burrata, which is a soft mozzarella like cheese from Southern Italy. This one was covered in herbs and fresh oil with shavings of fennel. Really light and fresh and the herbs brought everything together. The other cheese dish was gnudi. Something I hadn't come across before. It's essentially like a gnocchi but made with cheese instead of potato. This one was in contrast to the burrata, very rich and creamy. Absolutely lovely and a great find. Will be looking this one up in the future.

For my main course I had lamb. It came with broccoli, toasted almonds and chilli, served on a bed of creamy mash potato and a delicious gravy (posh people might call this a jus). The mix of the perfectly seasoned broccoli with toasted almonds and chilli was amazing. Something I've not tried before. The lamb itself was the best lamb I've ever had. No exaggeration. Perfectly pink in the middle. Seared on the outside with great seasoning. Great combinations of flavours and textures. I could've eaten that lamb forever. I don't understand how you cook meat like that. The duck and the lamb on both occasions, cooked perfectly. And the quality of the meat makes a huge difference too.

For pudding, I ordered off the menu. Something I'd seen them post on Twitter during the week. Burnt banana served with hazelnut brittle and salted caramel ice cream and sauce. Oh wow. A taste sensation! I'm not big on sweet things, so when something is a little less sweet or even salty, it's great for me. This is a classic taste combination, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

We also had a bottle of chianti reserva and a limoncello. I've gotta admit that the chianti wasn't what I'm used to. We usually only buy cheap wine haha. This one had a lot going on. I did enjoy it, but last time we went for the montepulciano. Sweeter and easier to drink and if you're like me and only usually drink cheap plonk, I'd recommend this over chianti. Perhaps if we had something a bit richer off the menu, the chianti would have been a better choice. We didn't go for cocktails this time because we had work the next day, but last time we did indulge and they awesome. Great recommendations from the staff too. I guess they've had enough time to sample them all.

The restaurant itself is located in Llandaf village, a stones throw away form the Cathedral. It's a beautiful location and quite romantic, although could just as easily be bromantic. The interior helps with the atmosphere too. Sophisticated, but relaxed. The staff are incredibly friendly but not overbearing. They are very knowledgeable about the menu and can give good recommendations. The soundtrack apparently has been the same since they opened last year and put together by a guy called Tom. The satff therefore are a little bit bored of the music but Tom has a great taste. We entered to The Smiths and were treated to the likes of Beirut and Billy Brag. Perfect tunes.

Here comes the bit about the price. It's expensive. No bones about it. It's not a place I can go to often although I'd love to eat there every day if I could. Four courses and quite a lot of drinks set us back about £100. It was our anniversary and we indulged. But my God is it worth it! Seriously if you haven't been, you should go. Now. It's perfect for a special occasion. They will not let you down.

Food is my hobby. I'd eat out every day if I could. I do eat out a lot, probably too much (I'm going to a local bakery for breakfast now and off to the Plymouth Arms in St. Fagans for tea!). I've been to many restaurants in  Cardiff and elsewhere and can say, hand on heart that Porro is the best restaurant I've ever been to that serves the best food I've ever eaten. No exaggeration.

I had all the intentions of taking pictures of my food to show you, but the moment took me and it was in my belly before I even realised. Oops.

Check out sample menus and book a table at their website.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Blogging With Depression.

..aaaaaaaand I'm back.

That's right, everyone's favourite chronic over sharer is back and ready to roll. There's a funny paradox when it comes to blogging with depression. The best thing you can do when suffering from a bout of depression is talking. Getting it off your chest. Not that there's anything on my chest making depressed, but simply talking can help. Well it's the very last thing I seem to want to do.

I've been down. Very down. For a long time. Christmas was very hard for me. I didn't enjoy it at all and I love Christmas. I've barely been out. Not seen anyone. I'm on medication so it's not all doom and gloom all the time. I'm coping. Day to day is ok. But I'm not my self and I don't want to see anyone.

Well my medication has now been increased and I've been slowly coming out of it. I'm in quite a good place now. And I'm ready to face the world again. The Internet world at least. If I do disappear from blogging again, I'm never far from a computer and you can usually find me on Facebook (feel free to follow), Twitter, Instagram, etc.

It was such bad timing. I'd just gotten the writing bug back and had bought a site domain to start writing news and articles on video games. So that is something I'm going to be concentrating on. Just in time for the conference season. Hope I can keep up with it all.

My PC which I used to edit is bust at the moment. I'm very slowly trying to figure out what's wrong with it and fixing it. If I do get back in to YouTube it'll be with unedited videos for now, which could be interesting.

Life is cool at the moment. Just flowing and all relaxed like. Another reason for not going out much is we are totally broke. Two kids in childcare is stretching us to our limits. Got another couple of years until the younger one is in school, then we'll be absolutely fine again. But now is tough.

But Laura's got her roller derby, I've got my games and we've got Netflix. We've made sure we can still do those or we'll go mad. Played some amazing games recently. Not gonna go in to lists and catch ups, but I might work some of them in to some future articles on my gaming site. But the hype train has definitely hit me square in the face when it comes to No Man's Sky. Actually counting down the days for that one. Thinking about taking a few days off to play it! It's like being in college again.

Currently enjoying the second series of Bosch on Amazon and looking forward to Daredevil Season 2 on Netflix, starting this Friday. Not seen many films but I did manage to go see Star Wars twice. Huge fan and loved the film. Can't wait for it come out on Bluray in April so I can watch it every Saturday morning until I can recite the script by heart like I did with original trilogy.

Off to re-heat a suasage and bacon hotpot I made last night. It's good to be back. I missed you guys.

Take care x

Monday, 13 April 2015

Holiday, Coffee and Daredevil

Back from holiday. It was bitter-sweet... More details in upcoming vlog. I know, I'm a tease. But now I'm back and I'm nearly ten pounds heavier. I feel fat and crap. I need to get back to the gym and work really hard when I'm there. I'm starting to worry about my health, self diagnosing conditions left, right and centre. This week it's diabetes. I should really get tested, but I don't wanna add to my doctors' TATTs for the day. Anyway, I need to sort myself out... I type as a chocolate brownie stares up at me longingly...

Speaking of which, there's a new coffee place right outside my work which is in two shipping containers at the side of the road. But inside is really hip. Nice coffee and they do giant pasties and panini. A tad on the expensive side, but good for when I'm feeling flush or need a treat.

Started watching Daredevil last night. Again I'm gonna pour my love over streaming service exclusives and applaud Marvel and Netflix for going down the Marvel Knights route and keeping it really dark and violent, whilst still maintaining it's humour. Great casting, acting, characterisation with the help of not at all cheesy flashbacks, brilliant choreography which are often done in long, one shot takes. I love the coherent Marvel Cinematic Universe and the nods in this to the Avengers are perfect for solidly placing it as a part of the overall story whilst still managing to feel very different. It still feels very comic book like but in a much more adult way, with brilliant framing, lighting and weather effects. Daredevils 'powers' are portrayed in a very subtle ways, mainly through the use of slightly elevated environmental sounds. I'm very impressed and can't wait to see more.

Had a great Table Top Day the other day and a lovely walk in Porthkerry Park. For more on that, make sure you keep an eye out for my vlog later in the week and check out my Twitter for pictures of Table Top Day.

Take care x