Free App of the Week (Apple) - Artie's Magic Pencil

Apple are offering Artie's Magic Pencil by Minilab as their Free App of the week. Designed as a creative app for under 5s, you guide (I assume) Artie through a 2D world helping the citizens to reconstruct items from flowers to buildings through drawing shapes.

I played through the game for about 20 minutes to see what it was all about, and in that time I managed to get to the end. I know (now) that this is an educational app, but it doesn't feel like I beat the game. At the end, I was left thinking 'is that it'.  Whether young children would get enjoyment out of the app remains to be seen.

Would I play through it again, probably not but then it's not designed for adults, would I let my 18 month play it, again he can try but I expect he would lack the dexterity to complete any of the sections. Perhaps, in the future, he may want to have a go on the app and I wouldn't stop him from doing so as I'm sure he would enjoy it. One side note, it has inspired me to have a go at creating pictures from geometric shapes, so it could be considered time well spent!

'Artie's Magic Pencil' by Minilab - 3/5

The Last Week (21/11/2016)

Monday - The usual mad rush to get home, see my son and get back out to five-a-side ensued even though I had considered giving it a miss. I'm glad that I went as everyone enjoyed themselves and got amongst the goals.

Tuesday - A quiet evening in, spent watching YouTube and TV, with some time of Minecraft for good measure.

Wednesday - Another non-event evening as a result of working later than anticipated, meaning I only really had opportunity to have my dinner and watch some YouTube after putting my little boy to bed.

Thursday - An early morning in the office to make sure some work was completed in time for a meeting, but time flew by and it was soon home time. I got another chance to pick up my little boy from nursery, I was fun sneaking up on him whilst he sat cross legged on the floor and waiting for him to turn round. There was some excitement at home later on as a glass mug shattered in the dishwasher, que spending time on hand and knee sorting through water to find shards of glass. Either side of this incident, we watched the two latest episodes of 'Russell Howard & Mum US Road Trip'.

Friday - A bit of personal excitement at work as the project I was managing delivered the first piece of work. Having worked late into the evening a couple of times during the week, I afforded myself an early finish to spend some quality time with my little boy.

Saturday - We had a quiet morning in but the afternoon didn't proceed as expected, as i missed my first home match at Greenhous Meadow in 8 years. This was because my little boy was sick just as we were due to leave the house. We decided to take him to an urgent care centre as he had been poorly for a couple of days. 5 hours later we were finally able to leave with some xxx prescribed.

Sunday - Again so many plans for Sunday as it was our anniversary (Happy anniversary!), we had planned to go to The Good Food show, but with our son being poorly, we didn't want to take him somewhere that we wouldn't be able to look after him properly. Instead, we popped to my partners parents to watch the Arsenal vs Bournemouth match, in which the Gunners won 3-1. After the match, we returned home to do the household chores and look after our little man.

Five Favourite Friday... Hyper Cars

It's my turn to pick the subject for our Five Favourite Friday post and I've gone for Hyper Cars! I grew up in the time of supercars, such as the McLaren F1, Lamborghini's Countach and Diablo, but there has definitely been a jump recently in both appearance and spec.  I'm not a full on petrolhead, but I know the cars I like, so with that on with my choices:

1) McLaren P1 - The latest incarnation of McLarens top-end production car, following on from the F1, maintaining the beauty and all the best bits, but brought into the 21st century.

2) Bugatti 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse - Powerful? Check. Fast? Check. Iconic? Definitely!  I'm sure this will be the standard that the next level of car is measured against.

3) Aston Martin Vulcan - Another beautiful car, one that i'd love to take for a spin!
4) Koenigsegg One:1 - This Koenigsegg looks like the stuff of dreams and would be a super fun car to take out on a track.
5) Lamborghini Centenario - Saving the best 'til last? quite possibly! I'm sure Lamborghini employ teenagers and let them go wild with their designs.  A car of passion and beauty.
Have I missed a hyper car that you think I should have included, let me know in the comments below and check out my partners post here for her thoughts.

The Last Week (14/11/2016)

Monday - Not the nights sleep I'd hoped for, my little boy started to struggle with a nasty cold and possibly some teething, which left me and my partner very deprived of sleep (I even considered missing five-a-side). I finished a bit earlier to allow myself some recuperation time and to spend some more time with my poorly little boy before heading back out to football. Again, I was happy with how I played defensively, even doing well in goal. I think I got a couple of goals as well, so all round a good run about.

Tuesday - Another bad nigh for my son, but as we we're more prepared for it, it didn't seem so bad. However having an ill child curtails what I/we can do, so we all ended up having an early night. The highlight of the night however was my son propping himself up on all fours whilst asleep and mumbling "Iggle" (Iggle Piggle from 'In The Night Garden') to himself, either hoping he'd save him in a dream or it was a terrible nightmare.

Wednesday - My son was seen by a doctor who prescribed some medicine to try to help him through the day. It appeared to do the trick as he seemed more like himself, even if he was a bit subdued than normal.

Thursday - A frustrating morning, that started with me dropping a shirt in a puddle and getting progressively more annoyed. The afternoon didn't follow the disappointing start to the day and it was a welcome relief to see my little boy happier than he had been, being active and playing with his toys. Unfortunately he took a bit of time to settle when going to bed, but it did give me a chance to start watching 'Jessica Jones' before going to sleep.

Friday - started particularly early as I woke up at 05:20, disappointingly I didn't have any reason to be awake, so I caught up on another episode of 'Jessica Jones'.

Another evening of looking after my little boy, nursing him better with my partner. Then when he'd gone to bed, we caught up on some TV and carried on the adventure of Fable 3.

Saturday - The usual weekend morning, consisting of waking up at 06:30, then watching CBeebies until my son goes for his nap. However as he was wide awake so early, we thought he'd want a nap a bit earlier, with hindsight this was wrong. Instead of going to sleep at 9 as we expected, he didn't drift off until 11 - they were a tough couple of hours! When he awoke, we went to my partners parents to (try and) watch the Arsenal vs Manchester United football match. We didn't get to see much of the game as we had to rouse our son and grab some lunch, so we only caught the last 20 minutes from just after United scored. Arsenal managed to scrape a draw with a late goal, their only shot on target. A leisurely afternoon followed culminating with going home and playing on Minecraft for the first time in forever.

Sunday - A last minute decision saw me going to Birmingham to their Christmas Market, sort of tagging along with my partner who was meeting up with some blogger buddies. Although it was fun going round the market, the morning really didn't go as planned. My partner forgot her purse, a fool stopped me from getting a McDonalds breakfast as they were blocking a self serve till until 10:30 so they could order a meal, their actions resulted in me traipsing round Birmingham to find somewhere to have some breakfast until gone 11:00 - this was a harder task than it sounds. I tried, McDonalds, Burger King, Nando's, Pizza Hut, Homemade Burger Co, Wagamama and Jamie's Italian before ending up at Ed's Easy Diner, where I thought I'd be able to get some breakfast. However much to my dismay, they had stopped serving breakfast when I sat down so I ended up ordering a pulled pork brioche bun - very nice but not what I really wanted. The upside was they do refillable soft drinks, so I got my money's worth!

I'll be doing a separate post about my experience of the Christmas Market, but I would say that it was good fun and you should pop along to see it for your self.

When we got home we spent some time reading books and playing silly games with our little boy until his bedtime.

Five Favourite Friday... Football Shirts

It's my partners turn to choose this weeks Five Favourite Friday topic and she has picked (to my surprise) Football shirts. There's no restriction as to national leagues or international shirts, Home or Away, but we are looking at 'Soccer' for our American readers.  As always I'm limiting myself to one shirt per club, I could easily pick multiple Arsenal or Shrewsbury Town shirts if I let myself!  On to my favourite shirts:

1) Arsenal 2005/06 (Home) - The shirt from Arsenal's final season at Highbury, so many memories from that season, including Thierry Henry's hat-trick in the final match in a 4-2 victory against Wigan Athletic.  The squad that wore this shirt also feature many of my favourite players, which probably helps.

2) Shrewsbury Town 2010/11 (Home) - Similar to my Arsenal selection, this shirt was a celebration of Shrewsbury Town's 125 anniversary, seeing the two shirts side-by-side they're very similar, just different colours.  This shirt is genuinely one of my favourites of all time, and one that I've worn on many an occasion.

3) Wigan Athletic 2012/13 (Away) - This feels like a bit of a strange pick, but I really like this Wigan shirt, the black design with the bright yellow appeals to me (don't judge me!).

3) FC Barcelona 2012/13 (Away) - Another shirt that I really like, Barcelona's orange to yellow fade, sounds ridiculous, but if anyone can pull it off, Barca can.
5) Paris Saint-Germain 2006/07 (Home) - PSG were one of the first teams I came across playing early editions of Championship Manager and FIFA video games, so I've always had a soft spot for them, and this shirt is very traditional PSG, with a solitary red stripe over the blue shirt.
All the images for this blog have been taken from Colours Of Football.
Honourable mentions to the scrambled egg shirts of Shrewsbury Town (1992/3) & Norwich City (1992/3), the Team GB shirt worn at London 2012 Olympics and classic Shrewsbury Town (1980/1) from Spinal Tap.

As always, check out my partners post about her favourite football shirts here and let me know in the comments below if there are any shirts I should have considered.

The Last Week (07/11/2016)

It took a bit of effort to get this prepared and published, but here we go...

Monday - I had hoped to finish a bit earlier than usual, but things conspired against me meaning that I left the office at my usual time. It was great to see my little boy so happy toddling around the dining table shouting 'Hiya' to everyone and asking for cuddles, having to leave that each Monday is a chore. After tearing myself away from my son, I went to football and really enjoyed the game, I managed to get some good goals, some silly ones and some lucky ones. The only downside was that I couldn't save a shoot when I was in goal, no idea if either team won, but I think we all enjoyed the run around!

Tuesday - It was good to get home after a busy day at work, it was even better that my little boy was so well behaved, eating all his dinner and then some! Once he had gone to bed, my partner and I caught up on 3 episodes of Russell Howard & Mum USA Road Trip. I had a quick play on Terraria as the night wore on to test out some modifications I'd made to an AFK farm for the Pumpkin Moon. The farm had been working quite well, but the changes took me through all 15 waves and brought with it plenty of loot.

Wednesday - A quiet night in watching YouTube and TV whilst eating a takeaway pizza, actually that's a good night in!

Thursday - Invited to my parents for dinner and got to witness my son (I can't call him a little boy after these events!) demolish a mountain of food, Spaghetti Bolognese, sausage and mash, yogurts, he must be getting ready for hibernation! After dinner, we spent about an hour running about, shouting and having a lovey time playing together as a family. Definitely the best bit about being a parent.

Friday - Again invited to my parents for dinner, I'm guessing they felt deprived of seeing their grandson. When we got back home, I started on my Five Favourite Friday blog post, which got me reminiscing about some of the games I used to play.

Saturday - A quiet morning in watching CBeebies for my son until his nap. Whilst he slept, I played on Fable 3, as we had found out that it's now available through backwards compatibility on Xbox One. My partner completed the tutorial section for me as they generally wind me up, especially as I've played it a lot previously. In the afternoon I went to the Greenhous Meadow for Paul Hurst's first league game at home, against Oxford United. It was great that the team continued their recent good form, winning 2-0, with AJ Leitch-Smith scoring one of the most comical goals I've ever seen, following up a rebounded shot.

Sunday - Consisted of going to my partners parents for lunch followed by watching some football and then the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix. Although the race took along time to complete with all the stoppages, the fans were treated to a fantastic race pushing the drivers to their limits, it was just a shame that there was very little footage of Lewis Hamilton cruising through the race to victory. Kudos to Max Verstappen for cutting through the field after a tactical error by his team.

Five Favourite Friday... Video Game Heroes

This week it's my turn to pick the subject for our Five Favourite Friday post and I've chosen Video Game Heroes.  When I decided on the topic, I thought this would be easy, but it's been quite hard to decide who should be included.  As always, I don't want to pick more than one character from a game or series.  Anyway on with my favourite video game heroes:

1) Corporal Tai Kaliso (Gears of War 2) - Gears is one of my favourite video game series but strangely, the character I liked most was Tai who only appears in GoW2.  Perhaps it's the Mohawk, perhaps it's the south pacific appearance or perhaps it's his peaceful demeanour that drew me towards the character, there is just something that makes him standout from some of the other characters in the series.

2) Max Payne (MaxPayne series) - There's something about the first two Max Payne games that appeal to me, the film noir imagery and story really set them apart from other games.  The hard drinking protagonist Max Payne is a bit of an anti-hero, but still makes my list.
Max Payne
3) Crazy Dave (Plants Vs Zombies series) - The best reason to love Dave, he's crazy!  He also happens to be the guiding light in the PvZ games and he'll sell you all sorts of things from the back of his car, a true hero.

Image result for Crazy Dave
4) Mario (Mario series) - Growing up, you were either a Nintendo kid or a Sega kid.  I had a Game Boy, SNES and a Wii so I played a lot of Mario games ranging from platformers to kart racing to competing in the Olympics against Sonic, I think for the different abilities and power-ups he has access to alone he deserves his appearance on my list.


5) the Hero (Fable series') - A bit of a cheat, as each Fable has it's own Hero, but hey it's my blog ;).  In Fable, your decisions allow you to influence the appearance of your Hero as the game progresses, and I think it's because of this that I love both the game, story and the hero my Hero becomes (wow that feels strange to type!).

Writing this post has made me realise that I haven't played that many games that aren't either franchise games (like FIFA or the Lego series') or sandbox games (Minecraft etc).  I'm sure over time I'll find other games that I have loved previously but have gone to the back of my mind and I'll want to amend this list, but time will tell.  This week Lara Croft, Hatty Hattington (BattleBlock Theater) and Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid) get honourable mentions.  Also a special mention for Guybrush Threepwood (Monkey Island series), who has the best name in gaming, if not the world!

Are there any Video Game Heroes that I should have included, let me know in the comments below.

As always, head across to my partners blog to see who her favourite video game heroes are.  Perhaps leave a comment on her blog to suggest next weeks topic, as it will be her selection.

The Last Week (31/10/2016)

It's been a while since I have found time to do my weekly post on what I've been up to, as with most things in my life there are plenty of reasons (mainly down to poorliness in the household), but no excuses. I'll do better in the future.

Monday - This was the first night leaving the office after the clocks went back and it was the first time I had walked from my current office to the train station in the dark, so it was a bit of a shock a just how poorly lit the route is at that time of the year. After a quick turnaround seeing my son in good form, I enjoyed a really tight game of five-a-side. I got a goal and was generally happy with my performance, but with about 20 minutes to go I had a shot and ended up clattering one of the other players. I thought I had come off worst as my toes, ankle and knee became quite painful, but I later found out that his foot had started to swell in his boot - at least we could both walk away from it!

Tuesday - I could add my groin to the parts of me aching after football the previous night! And whilst I was aching from football, my partner was ill too so it wasn't a happy household in the morning.

I finished work a bit earlier than normal so I could pick up my little boy from nursery, I do enjoy seeing his face when he notices our faces when he gets picked. I was also pleased to see him reading the Jungle Book to himself, making monkey and lion noises when they appeared on the page. After that we had a quiet night in, catching up on some YouTube videos and watching episodes 9 & 10 of Luke Cage, still really enjoying it I just need to find time to watch the remaining two episodes of season 1.

Wednesday - Greeted by the unexpected sight of a tidied house on my return home. Whilst I had been at work, my partner had enlisted the assistance of her mum to tidy our house ahead of the long awaited installation of our dishwasher! After I overcame the shock, we had a nice evening in watching YouTube and playing Terraria, in which I managed to get an achievement I've been after for some time (Pet Hoarder). This achievement took some grinding to complete as I'd been missing pets from the Frost Moon and Pumpkin Moon events, the last one I needed (the Baby Grinch) is only dropped by the Ice Queen, the final event boss.

Thursday - we had our dishwasher installed, much to my partners delight, a huge thank you to my parents for helping us source and install it!

Friday - Had a bit of a strange day, due to a problem at the office, we were asked to work from home, but with my son and partner around I found it difficult to concentrate so ended up doing a short day. It meant that we could go out to lunch and spend a bit of quality time together.

Saturday - in the afternoon I went to the Football to see Paul Hurst's first match at home. It happened to be the first round of the FA Cup against League 2's Barnet. I believe that this game may have been one to make our season, win and it'll start the rebuilding confidence in the players, loose and it'd be another blow to the players. Thankfully it was a much better performance than we'd been treated to previously, winning the game 3-0. It's not often I get chance to choose my favourite goal, but Jack Grimmer's strike was outstanding!

When we got back home we had a bit of an issue with the dishwasher, a leak had sprung from the piping. Fortunately my Dad was able to fix it once he'd worked out what the problem was - Thank you.

Sunday - An early viewing of Shaun The Sheep Movie was in order after my little boy found the Blu-ray in our movie collection. My partner prepared a lovely roast pork dinner, even if it took my son a long time to realise it wasn't disgusting. We spent the afternoon baking some cookies and bread, the first time that the three of us had baked together. Whilst the bread was proving, we started to tackle the challenge of tidying our bedroom and sorting our clothes out. If that wasn't challenging enough, we had to content with an 18 month old terrorising us whilst we worked. The evening brought some valuable quiet time, allowing me and my partner some time to catch-up on 3 episodes of QI before bed.

Five Favourite Friday... YouTubers

Another week has passed and it's time for another Five Favourite Friday post. After my selection last week of Baked Goods, my partner has chosen YouTubers. In the event you been living under a rock since 2005, YouTube is a video sharing website owned by Google where you can watch anything from licenced content to parodies to home videos. In the past couple of years we tended to what far more YouTube than we do TV, it's on a par to gaming as our main entertainment source. On to my Favourite Five YouTubers...

1) HappyDays - As you've probably picked up I love the game Terraria and Happy is probably one of the reasons why. He uploads videos mainly about Terraria covering Let's Plays, Top 5s and How To videos, but he has also created videos on another games including Starbound and Minecraft Storymode. We've been watching HappyDays for a couple of years now and it's amazing to see how the channel has developed. His series served as a great knowledge base to draw on for things like building traps and inspirational towns.


2) - I don't know why I came across WatchMojo, but I've lost many an hour to watching their top 10 videos. I suppose everyone has an opinion on the topics they post about and in fact it was a bit of an inspiration for these Five Favourite Friday posts.

3) React - The react channel appeared as recommended video and after watching a couple of videos I was hooked. They produce videos of different age groups reacting to topics, from music to games, from foodstuffs to challenges. There's plenty of varied content to watch, something for everyone.


4. New Rockstars - This channel came to my attention early in 2016, and it helped stoke my interest in a number of films and TV shows that were either due out later in the year, or had just been released. There are a number of presenters that review trailer, films & episodes and look out for hints & Easter eggs that people may miss.

5. StampyLongHead - Stampy is the reason why we watch YouTube so much. I recall that I was looking for a video to explain something in Minecraft and a Stampy video was suggested. After watching that first video we ended up watching another, and another, and another... He has an ever expanding catalogue of lets play Minecraft videos mainly set in his 'Lovely World' in which he has built a town of various buildings and a massive fun land full of multiplayer games that he plays against his helpers.


Honourable mentions this week go to PythonGB, iBallisticSquid both gaming channels and Shrewsbury Town as it generally the place that I get to see highlights from away matches that I'm unable to attend i.e. most of them (Sad face).

Doing this blog has inspired me to setup a channel, not that I can see myself uploading any content just yet, but who knows! I'll give a cheeky mention to my partners channel, catch it before she removes the link ;)

As always, if you're interested in my partners favourite YouTube channels you can check them out here. It's back to me to chose the next topic for a Five Favourite Friday post, so leave any suggestions in the comments below!