A Cup of Tea with Mr C: A Week in Review #18

Between the opportunities and adventures, a personal space to reflect on life’s small challenges and circumstances. This is my time to reflect on the last seven days, a more opinionated and personal account that provides an insight into my life as the author and content creator at Comfortably Adventurous. A way to document and reflect back on a unique period of our lives unlike anything in recent memory. A little more free spirited, a little less rigid. I hope you feel invited in and welcome in the weeks ahead.

Welcome back to The Week, or Weeks in Review, it’s been a challenging period with work taking its toll. It’s never a subject matter I’ll go into detail about but I have been fortunate throughout this pandemic to have a role that has afforded a full salary with no real financial impact. Working hours have fluctuated in response to external conditions and this past week, a return to something resembling a full working pattern again. I’m beyond grateful and thankful to have not experienced a hit on my finances and income, my employer has been exemplary in supporting its workforce. It has also resulted in an improvement in my work life balance with increased opportunities to write and do the things I enjoy. However, there was always going to be a point when that started to shift back towards some resemblance of normalcy, here, the first tentative steps and indication of what’s to come. Thankfully, a gradual return to normal but it has meant getting home later and having less time to do the enjoyable stuff. It may have an impact on my ability to sustain the level of writing that has felt comfortable for the last six months, we’ll have to see.

I’m currently on a secondment position at a different location which has presented its own set of challenges. This week, the effect of the pandemic felt close to home in that regard and a testing period of time but one I managed to persevere through and the week ended in a lovely experience with my partner indulging in a Cream Tea for Two. At the moment, we are both trying to support each other and keep each other going as best as we can, every advert for a holiday a small stab in her heart, for me, the knowledge of pancake day and other family holidays on the horizon that realistically will have to be sacrificed for another year. We both have things in our lives we miss dearly so we’ve made a determined effort to just make the best of a bad situation and if that means putting on our best clothes and enjoying a cream tea around a living room table then that’s what we’ll do. This period of lockdown was always going to be more challenging than last Summer, the lovely sunny days now dark long evenings but as she pointed out to me this past Sunday, the days are getting longer again. An apt metaphor for moving out of the darkness if ever there was one.

Personal Thoughts

The Sun Sets In The West

I live in a small town called Cowley in North West London, it’s on the outskirts of the city, a stone’s throw from the country side which affords the opportunity for long walks into the woods whilst benefitting from the conveniences of city living. My flat faces the west, as a result its a little chilly when I wake up but in the evening I do benefit from some gorgeous views on a clear night. I’ve posted a number of images up over the last year I’ve captured from the window, this past week I was fortunate to capture another beautiful dusky shot of the setting sun. I love the huge variance in colours and tones visible, the various shades of blues and greys battling the fiery reds of the setting sun blazing in the evening sky. The black silhouette of the tree’s above the apartment buildings opposite create this artificial impression of a low treeline against the vast open skies behind it. I’ll fully admit to a little trickery here in camera angles in capturing the view but besides putting the focus on the sky there were no improvements or touch ups made, just a stunning amazing colour in the evening sky.

As a child, I was always drawn to the mysticism and intrigue of the halloween fable of the dark dark house in the dark dark wood. That layering of fright that built up to its conclusion. As an adult, in a safe environment there is a real beauty to dusk and the setting sun, the menace of the dark shadows pitched against those vibrant colours in the sky behind. It reminds you of Autumn, long walks in the low sun. I’m very much a winter child, with a Birthday in December usually falling on or around the shortest day of the year, many of those special days have been spent in London at sunset or nighttime when we’ve been out on an adventure. I enjoy the summer but these views from my top floor window always remind me of long walks in the wood with family as a child and my partner now, simple free pleasures coming home to a log fire and the smell of home cooking. I’ll admit I’d love to experience a little natural warmth in the morning when I wake up but certainly, in the evenings I’m blessed when the skies are clear to enjoy these beautiful views to the West.

A Day Of Snow

There’s a certain, elitism living in London. Often, events that happen around the country will fail to garner the same media attention than the same conditions in the Capital. There’s been significant snow fall over the Winter period across the country but London was relatively unscathed, as such, you’d struggle to find any mention of the white stuff. Fortunately, we were blessed in the South with a single day over the last two weeks which afforded an opportunity to get out and about for a couple of hours at least and just enjoy a short window of escapism into a Narnia inspired natural world. Ever since I’ve lived in Cowley, one of my favourite activities is to walk around the lake close to where I live, especially in the Winter where you can capture some amazing shots of the snow falling and the transformation of this open space. Even more fortuitous was this winter blizzard falling across London on a Sunday which allowed many families and adventurous spirits to actually enjoy the outdoor world for a few brief hours as opposed to struggling to work in a city that doesn’t cope with adverse conditions.

I decided to pull on my trainers, grab my camera and walk my usual walk around the Lake and Canals taking a few scenic pictures of the snow falling on the tree’s and canal boats. Despite some fears of running into a lot of people out and about it was relatively quiet for the most part. A little treacherous under foot with a mixture of mud, snow and slush in part but for the majority of the walk it was just a great excuse to snap some pictures of the outside world. As I neared the end of my walk, I finished in a local park which was full of families and couples enjoying building snowmen and having snowball fights. It’s safe to say, social distancing was perhaps a secondary thought but honestly, it felt and feels like a pressure cooker building up through out the city and country, that short window of wintery weather and snow just gave people a brief period of escapism to get out and about and enjoy something so joyous and wholesome. It was a little dangerous driving to work the next day with icy roads but that’s another story. For one day at least this winter, it was nice to just enjoy the snow and have a brief period of normalcy.

The Fun Stuff

The Sign of Two

Before Christmas, my laptop begun to show the first, tell tale signs of age and degradation, the battery unable to hold a charge for any sustainable period of time requiring a constant mains connection. It was the first sign, and with the best intentions I meant to backup my files but I never got around to it. This past week, I had experienced one of those days at work that taxes you and leaves you feeling fatigued and morose. What could go wrong, had. Into the evening I wasn’t feeling to great and ended up spilling a drink over my dinner and then a glass of water over my laptop. I decided at that point to go to bed and put the day behind me but of course the next day when I tried to assess the damage, I was met with a solid white screen indicative of a failed graphics processor or water damage. It meant the potential for having to spend yet more money on not only a not laptop but also paying for someone to transfer my files off my laptop hard drive onto my new machine. I ignored the first sign, this was the second, and unfortunately it seemed I should have paid attention before hand.

A necessary evil but one entirely avoidable if I had just backed up my files in the first place. Thankfully, someone above was smiling down on me for a very trying period of work, my aged, potentially water damaged machine had come back to life affording me the opportunity to perform a file transfer and backup my data. It also meant I could relax slightly and enjoy the new laptop shopping experience. It has been a few years since I’ve dipped my toe in this market, many things I had taken for granted no longer an option. The presence of a physical disc drive seemingly out of vogue, as was the presence of right hand side numeric keyboard, all features seemingly redundant in the annals of time. Having been involved with a series of Covid tests as part of the ONS study to track the spread of the disease since September I had a few vouchers saved up which afforded me a large discount. So what presented itself as a possibility of a difficult challenge attempting to restore files off a damaged machine in a period where face to face contact and repair centres are a logistical nightmare thankfully turned out to be relatively straight forward. So now I’m back, getting to grips with a new machine.

Putting the D in Democracy

I set myself a soft ambitious target at the start of January to try and clear a few older titles from my collection, though of course trying to decide what to play next is often a challenge in itself. Having finished Dead Space I decided to open up my next game to a wider audience, running a poll on social media and effectively giving in to democracy, allowing the will of the people to determine my next title in February. It was a fun exercise, and one I may repeat again at a later date as it took a lot of the anxiety and frustration of having to make that decision myself and allowed me to begin the month with a fresh slate. Sometimes, one of the biggest issues with tackling a game from the backlog are any prior memories and frustrations of playing it the first time around, acting almost as a deterrence before you’ve even loaded the disc in the tray. I’ll fully admit to having put off playing a game with that ingrained feeling of frustration that bubbles beneath the surface, Dead Space was a classic example with a number of spikes in the narrative that were off putting.

On this occasion, the chosen title was the third in the rebooted Tomb Raider trilogy. Here it wasn’t a title that I had played before, one added to my collection a number of months ago out of curiosity but also a game I had wanted to play for some time to see how the series continued after Rise Of The Tomb Raider. I had played both these games on the seventh generation resisting the urge to upgrade and play them on a modern console but with Shadow releasing exclusively on the PS4/Xbox it meant I no longer had that neat divide between generations. Perhaps it speaks to the compulsive instincts in me but certain franchises and games I could easily compartmentalise and experience solely on one generation of hardware. The Tomb Raider games for example, worked perfectly on the Xbox 360 and so there wasn’t a need to continue this series between generations. But I did want to see how the series continued, and so I opened myself up to the will of the people, and they spoke, and now Shadow of the Tomb Raider is loading onto my PS4 ready to play in February.

#LoveYourBacklog Month 2021

In February, the talented minds at Later Levels and Ace Asunder continue their annual tradition of casting an appreciative look at the Gaming Backlog, a common occurence among gamers of building up a vast collection of games and software that you don’t always get around to playing or completing in short order. It’s an opportunity to view this collection in a positive way instead of the associated guilt you normally feel building up an unplayed mass of games. I’ll be posting about my collection in a couple of weeks with a revealing look at those hidden games in my drawers that have yet to be completed or in some cases opened. I’ll also be looking to tackle a game from my backlog in the next few weeks putting to rest the third entry in the Tomb Raider series as well publishing my review of Dead Space, both games that have sat unloved and waited for my attention. Check out these talented individuals and the other posts in the series this month.

The Week Ahead

  • Afternoon Tea for Two – 9th February 06:00
  • Shadow Of The Tomb Raider: First Impressions – 11th February 06:00
  • Key Lime Pie Dessert Sandwich: Bite Sized Food Review – 12th February 06:00
  • A Cup of Tea with Mr C: A Week in Review #19 – Sunday 14th February 06:00

It’s back to a full schedule after a two week break. First up this week, an Afternoon Tea for Two, the next weekend lockdown activity after our Harry Potter inspired Puzzle evening that aim’s to bring a little of the charm and spectacle of the outside world into the home environment. A lovely couple of hours of escapism before the reality of living under these strange conditions set back in. On Thursday, first impressions of my next game in my backlog, the third entry in the new Tomb Raider series and my first impressions having spent a few hours exploring this new environment and entry in the series. Mostly positive so far but certainly room to improve and grow beyond an already overtly familiar structure to the games. I’ll have a full review in due course when I finish the game, given the linear nature of the titles looking forward to seeing how the narrative expands for the entirety of the game as it was a strength of the first two chapters in the series.

The Bite Sized Food Review continues the baking tradition and an attempt to create a Key Lime Pie inspired dessert sandwich. This was a fun one to put together after the Fluffernutter challenge a couple of week’s ago. This required a little more cooking and baking to make it a really indulgant experience but the end result was a really delicious tasting grilled dessert sandwich. And of course, as Sunday draws around another week in review. Over the coming weeks I am deciding how I want to structure my time and energy, with a return to my full working pattern in a front facing role it does narrow the opportunity to create written content which does require an investment of time sacrificing certain things over others. For now, a full week of planned content for your enjoyment. Keep safe, have a biscuit, see you soon.

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