Tag Archives: whew!

Random Music: Autumn 2018

I’m listening to a bunch of new stuff at the moment – a lot of it from a friend’s mixtape – and I’m bouncing my way through things like Iron & Wine’s Flightless Bird, American Mouth and Roddy Woomble, My Secret Is My Silence. I’m also enjoying Dan Auerbach’s Shine On Me and my current bop-along song is Matthew Mole Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine.

Bears Den are my latest album purchase, along with Frank Turner’s Be More Kind (of which Blackout is my favourite!)

I’ve also – on the urging of a friend – resurrected my singing playlist again, so I can learn things, and added some new and some new-to-the-list things to it! Currently I’m learning Take Me Home, Country Road (yes, I know, but it’s a good one to walk down the track with) and Son of a Preacher Man, reminding myself of Lazarus by Porcupine Tree, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 and Even If It Breaks Your Heart (Will Hoge’s version), and I’ve got Bastille’s Oblivion for when I’m feeling braver! – I can hit the high notes, just. It was a good test of my lung and courage capacity last time I was learning to sing, so I’m up for giving it a go this time…

And the final one I’m loving this autumn:

BristolCon 2018

Despite feeling snuffly and tired, I got myself to BristolCon 2018! (Well, with the help of Sammy and Joel, who assisted in dragging me out of bed and into a car at a far-too-early hour of the morning…)

Kate and Lia snugglingIt was a much more chilled BristolCon than I’ve had previously; as I was expecting to be on the Grimbold stall for the day, I hadn’t booked myself in for any panels, and only had a few people that I was wanting to see. It was a definite bonus to arrive and find a wonderful gang of people that I did want to talk to – including the ever-deadpan Dave Hutchinson, Pete Sutton, Chloe Headdon, Stephanie Burgis, all of the Grimbold team (including our newest arrival, 5-week old Lia!), Anna Smith-Spark, Anne-Mhairi Simpson and Nick Hembery! It was great to meet faces that I either knew and hadn’t met in person, or were completely new – and to manage to snatch words with old faces too (hi Bav!) and catch up with some people I’d briefly seen at FantasyCon.

Grimbold stall at BristolCon
Photo from Sophie E Tallis

I got to one panel on books that the panellists held dear to their hearts, despite problems; the GOH interview of Joanne Hall by Roz Clarke; and Pete Sutton’s launch of Seven Deadly Swords, which I edited – and is excellent, by the way. Historical thriller. Go read it. Beyond that, I was mostly chatting or chilling or sitting at the stall.

I did get more of a book haul, though! Two freebies from the goodie bags; Journey to the Centre of the Earth and The War of the Worlds from Wordsworth Classics. A copy of The Magicians from the freebie table, along with Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd, The Affinity Bridge by George Mann, Autodrome by Kim Lakin-Smith, and a random copy of Your Favourite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore.

Book haul from bristolcon 18

So, congrats and general awesomeness to all the volunteers and organisers – everything seemed to be running smoothly and it was an excellent con! And lovely to see everyone who was there – including all the people I spoke to or met that I haven’t managed to mention!

I’m now absolutely exhausted after two cons in a row plus a busy week at work, so please forgive me if I’m not entirely with it for the next week…or I may just have my nose buried in a book…

Doing Scary Things: Do, Rinse and Repeat

chibird believeSo I heard a piece of wisdom back when I was a teenager that I’ve carried with me ever since: it’s something along the lines of, “being grown up doesn’t mean you suddenly know how to do everything. It means you get more situations that you’ve encountered before.”

It’s always been reassuring when I’ve been feeling weird about Being Grown Up, but I’m finding it’s applicable to Doing Scary Things, too. The more I do them, the more experience I have, and the less scary they get.

I was thinking about that recently when I did a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Cambridge without really thinking about it – and four years ago, I HATED driving! Even doing the 15 minutes to work really scared me. Now? The Cambridge trip was fine! And I volunteered (reluctantly, and with a lot of nerves, but knowing that I could do it) to drive a van to London – and I did it! Twice!

The more scary things I do and the more I gently push myself while I can, the easier things get when I feel like I can’t do something – because I’ve then done it before. I’ve got courage to spend at the moment, so I’m using it by walking new routes, eating places I’ve not been, talking to new people – none of which sound like much, but they’re all anxiety points! I’ve sung in public; asked someone out; volunteered for public speaking; sorted company tax accounts; shared some scary writing…

It’s all still terrifying. Driving still isn’t something I choose to do if I can help it; I’ll get the bus or walk instead! Weirdly, it’s usually parking that’s the anxiety point, because I can mostly control everything else – but because I’ve pushed myself, driving is now a much more viable option, and it means I can help someone else and drive a van when I need to.  And that seems to hold true for most of my anxiety things; pushing myself means I add new skills, and it – so far, mostly – means I decrease the anxiety around it.

It’s still limited, though, and that’s something I have been careful to remember. I was honest about my limitations and fears with the van – and I was right to be, because I did struggle, and thanks to having said (I am so grateful for a mental-health-friendly workplace and boss!) it was all sorted out. I was careful to plan and research my trip to Cambridge so that I removed as many of the potential anxiety points as possible; I knew where I could park and what to do at the junctions that could be problems, and that meant I could deal with everything else with a bit more equilibrium. Even with restaurants, I’ll ideally go with someone else who’s been before, stay behind them, give myself time to see how it works. It’s pushing myself, but it’s also knowing where my limits are – but even that is because I’ve been here before, and I know what I get scared about. I can push that.

And when I’ve done it once, I can do it again! Adulting ftw!

Board Games and Werewolf

One of the excellent things about Rebellion (amongst many others, of course) is that there’s so many geeky people that there’s a board games club at lunchtime. (There’s also a lot of people who play computer games – I’ve been offered Halo, Overwatch and World of Warcraft, and several others that I hadn’t heard of!) But because I like board games, I made a point of investigating who did what, and I’m now usually – if the publishing department hasn’t caught fire or the printers have just sent a proof copy back – to be found playing something at lunchtime…

7 Wonders

You are the leader of one of the 7 great cities of the Ancient World. Gather resources, develop commercial routes, and affirm your military supremacy. Build your city and erect an architectural wonder which will transcend future times.

I admit that when I first played this, I was a bit worried as it was quite long…but it’s actually a really good half-hour game! The setup’s a little fiddly but once you know what everything does (which I found took 5-ish games) it’s quite easy to start looking at strategies and ways of playing. I haven’t yet won, but I’m starting to hold my own – and develop my own strategies for winning! It can be as complex or as simple a strategy as you want it to be, and I like 7 Wonders because the game changes every time, so – so far! – it hasn’t become boring.


We’ve just started playing this (aka. we’ve played it twice now?) so I’m just about getting the hang of it. It’s got a cool mechanism of turning wheels, so you add your workers to a wheel and then can either leave them to ride up the rewards, or remove them to gain the reward, plus go up in temple points, build buildings…it’s quite complex to understand what everything does, but kinda fun. Still working out my strategies though!

Mystic Vale (with expansions)

A curse has been placed on the Valley of Life. Hearing the spirits of nature cry out for aid, clans of druids have arrived, determined to use their blessings to heal the land and rescue the spirits. It will require courage and also caution, as the curse can overwhelm the careless who wield too much power.

I really like the mechanism for this; you get issued a “base” set of cards, and then you add in powers on top in clear plastic sleeves. It means you power up your deck as you play, but still gives you randomly selected cards – and you’re potentially fighting everyone else at the table for the cards that you want to take. It’s been a 2-lunchtime game each time we’ve played (although sometimes only just!) and it fairly easy to set up. And it is very pretty.

Race for the Galaxy

Players build galactic civilizations by playing game cards in front of them that represent worlds or technical and social developments. Some worlds allow players to produce goods, which can be consumed later to gain either card draws or victory points when the appropriate technologies are available to them. These are mainly provided by the developments and worlds that are not able to produce, but the fancier production worlds also give these bonuses.

Another quick-play one, and one that I’m slowly getting the hang of – although I’ve only played this one a few times, too! Good for card strategy although has some dice-roll luck too.

Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico players assume the roles of colonial governors on the island of Puerto Rico. The aim of the game is to amass victory points by shipping goods to Europe or by constructing buildings.

Getting the hang of this one! It’s quite a simple one to pick up, and fairly simple to play. Haven’t yet won (let’s be fair, I haven’t won anything yet…) but getting closer! Coffee, that’s the key – and taking over one boat when no one else has any of that commodity 🙂

We’ve also been playing Dominion, Galaxy Truckers (which, I incidentally learned, isn’t supposed to take an HOUR to build your ship. It’s supposed to take five minutes. So there’s that), Ticket to Ride, and I forget the others…but definitely a bunch of different things! And we’ve still got quite a bit of the stack of get through! So my lunchtimes are busy and fun, even if I am still losing everything at the moment.


There’s an Oxford Werewolf group – I think there’s actually a couple around, but I trundled along to this one a week or so ago. It was awesome and it’s a really good group of people, but I’d forgotten how freakin’ anxiety-full Werewolf is! Especially for someone who doesn’t like arguing. Not sure I’m going to be able to go back, which sucks as otherwise it was a fun game. I mean, I got burned at the stake which frankly wasn’t very friendly, but a wolf nearly won – which is hilarious when you’re a ghost and hanging around just to watch the chaos.

5 Happy Things: June 2018

What’s going on this month? Stuff. Things. Swans being f***ers (seriously, those things are absolute gits!) A lot of walking around Oxford. Friends. Being tired. It’s been a pretty good month so far, even if I have been exhausted for some of it… so, best bits?

Revenant Gun cover1.Reading sequels to awesome books.

I love my job! (Ps. Yoon Ha Lee’s Revenant Gun is out this week! My colleague and I may have been fangirling over Ninefox fanart…)


I’m currently looking for a place of my own with a couple of friends (as I’m currently in a friend’s spare room) and it’s been fun to see bits of Oxford I might not otherwise have gone to! I’ve been doing a lot of walking, and it is adding to my anxiety levels (phone calls, timing issues, more phone calls…) but it’s exciting as well.

3.And we might be getting a cat!

I miss my furball (despite the fact he regularly woke me up at 3am for breakfast when there was food in his bowl, and his favourite sleeping spot is obviously on whatever you’re currently trying to do…) so a potential new furball is great! We don’t know if it’ll actually come off, but it’s a nice dream. My housemate has been looking at cats…I’m currently trying to persuade him that kittens are adorable bundles of squeaky fluff, but they are also FUCKING HARD WORK.

4.It’s weird, but “coping mechanisms” have been a good thing!

I broke last week; I was completely exhausted, and had a couple of days where I really could have used my walking stick (and not just to hit people with…) but actually, I feel quite optimistic about it. There wasn’t a specific trigger so I don’t know exactly what I could have avoided to prevent it, but once I realised what was happening, it felt like a routine – I knew what I needed to do, I did it, and I looked after myself as best I could. I was still able to get into work, and even though I was tired, I didn’t burn myself out. So – it sucked, but actually, I got this. I can cope with it.

5.And a little thing…Revels.

I used to eat them a lot in school and I’ve rediscovered them. My favourites are the orange and coffee, and I’ll reluctantly eat the raisins. I guess they’re better than Bertie Bott’s, at least – no vomit or dog poo!

So that’s halfway through June…now I’ve got several books to read, several things to edit, and general chaos to administer – so back to work!