Five Favourite Friday... Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Characters

Hi there again, it's time for another Five Favourite Friday post. This week we're going to reveal our favourite characters from the MCU, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
After watching the first couple of films, I got hooked on this franchise. I don't see them as linked films, there more like a feature length TV series. There are lots of interesting characters to chose from. So here we go, these are my favourite MCU characters:
1) Rocket (first appearance in 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' [2014])
He's the genetically modified companion of Groot with a penchant for technology, weapons and explosives. Voiced by Bradley Cooper, Rocket and Groot get caught up in the brawl between Peter Quill / Starlord and Gamora, getting arrested before breaking out of prison before forming the Guardians of the Galaxy.
2) Scott Lang / Ant-Man (first appearance in 'Ant-Man' [2015])
I didn't know much about Ant-Man prior to watching the film, but Paul Rudd's Scott Lang brings something different to the MCU. He's a petty criminal who gets selected by the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, to take up the mantle to take on Darren Cross, Pym's protégé, who becomes Yellowjacket.
3) Luke Cage (first appearance in 'Jessica Jones' [2016])
The setting for Luke Cage is so cool and it sets the stage for the Power-man himself, super strong and bulletproof. Another troubled soul, having been in-prisoned and breaking free before meeting up with Pop at his barbershop. Luke Cage also had one of my favourite scenes of the MCU, when a thug punches Luke's chin and the viewer sees the thugs wrist shatter upon impact.
4) Sam Wilson / Falcon (first appearance in 'Captain America: Winter Soldier' [2014])
Falcon is a bit of an underrated character to me and I'd love to see a standalone film. Having the ability to fly via an awesome suit of armour, and his wings turning into a bulletproof shield, what's not to like
5) Tony Stark / Iron Man (first appearance in 'Iron Man' [2008])
After much deliberation, I picked Iron Man for the fifth slot as he's an interesting all-rounder that I can sort of relate to, other than I'm not a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. Part of the appeal is the evolution of the technology and armour that Iron Man uses, but also he is aware of the responsibility of the Avengers and feels responsible for some of the resultant misery that they cause.

Instead of an honourable mention this week, I'm going to reserve the right to bring in Black Panther if the film lives up to my expectation.
When I was looking at all the characters and in the end I made the decision to exclude villains from this list as I might do them in a separate post, but there are some great ones out there like Kingpin and Cottonmouth.
You can check out Nikki's favourite MCU characters on her blog here. Nikki's going to be giving our Five Favourite Friday post a miss next week, so I'm going to get a chance to celebrate football coming back and Shrewsbury Town entering their tenth season at the New Meadow by looking at my favourite 'Memories from the New Meadow (so far)'.
As a side note, we were discussing our posts the other day and I decided to ask my 2 year old "Who's your favourite superhero? Spider-Man?Batman? Ironman? hulk? daddy?" The last one was more in hope than expectation, but his answer caught us a little off guard. He responded with "My favourite is Mr. Ray" (the teacher from Finding Nemo / Find ping Dory).

Pokemon Go | Big Heritage event | Chester Review

So we've just got back from attending the Big Heritage event in Chester that has been endorsed by Niantic, creators of Pokémon Go. We had a great time exploring the city and I thought I'd write a quick post about our experience of the event.

Firstly the positives:
  • A day of good weather - This may seem like a weak point to start on but the weather was gorgeous, and this made the day very enjoyable for us. It also meant there were thousands of people wandering round Chester playing Pokémon Go, which was a great sight to see. I can't help but think if the weather hadn't been as nice i may have caught some more Pokémon (see negatives).
  • A well run event - The Big Heritage team deserves a big congratulations for their efforts in running the event. The Pokémon PassPort and Trail were a nice touch, and the staff were very friendly when I was getting stamps in the PassPort.
  • So many PokéStops with lures - I read that Niantic introduced 120 additional stops to the city centre for the event, this meant there were plenty of places generating Pokémon and get replacement Pokéballs.
  • The trainers - It was great to see people dressed up either as their favourite Pokémon (pikachu was hugely popular) or wearing Pokémon clothes and bags. There was also great camaraderie between players that hadn't met before.
  • Seeing the city - It has been years since I last went into the centre of Chester, so it was nice to see how it's changed and also see some of the historic landmarks again.
However it wasn't all great, there were some negatives:
  • Chester isn't a huge city - This meant that there were a lot of people in a fairly small space and with everyone looking at their phones, it was difficult to walk at our own pace.
  • Game lag / Network Provider problems - We may not know who was to blame for this, but it was a massive issue for us. From the minute we got in to the city the game started to freeze and crash with regular occurrence. It really interrupted our experience as I had planned to do a lot of walking to earn candies but despite walking over 5 miles according to my Fitbit, I only managed to register about 2 kilometres with my buddy. It also meant I couldn't access the PokéGyms nor take part in any Raids (I had hoped to join in and catch something from a level 4 Raid). If it weren't for the nice weather less people may have been out and there may not have been as much strain on networks.

Some people on social media seemed discontent that a free event wasn't perfect (with the lag) and that spawns were producing standard Pokémon, but I thought it was a decent showing for the first event of its kind. Big Heritage weren't to blame for either of these issues, and if you read the posts from them you'd have known that what the event was - an attempt to use Pokémon Go to encourage people to walk around the city and embrace its history and learn about its heritage.

I would encourage people to go tomorrow and enjoy the event, but make sure you understand what you're going to, especially if you planning to travel a long way to avoid disappointment.

As a side note, I thought I'd also comment on Pokémon Go Fest as I've watched it unravelling on YouTube and Twitter. It would appear that they have been beset with issues and that trainers attending the event are having huge problems connecting to the game. In hindsight I'm sure that they could have learnt front the Big Heritage event in terms of dealing with large numbers of people coming together in a small area wanting to make the most of a cellular network - but hey hindsight's a wonderful thing. I feel for those attending and I hope Niantic can sort the problems out to appease those remaining at the event.

Pokemon Go | Big Heritage event | Chester (22-23 July 2017)

About three weeks ago I spotted an announcement on Twitter from Pokémon Go revealing that as part of the first anniversary celebrations Europe would be getting a number of Safari Zones. I made a beeline to the locations and dates on the website only to find that they are being held on the mainland continent and not in the UK (worse still that there is an event in Paris the day after we return home!). It was only as I read the details that my mood started to improve.
Niantic (The Pokémon Company) had teamed up with a company in the UK promoting an event due to be held in Chester, about 45 miles from Shrewsbury. This event is the Big Heritage Festival. For obvious reasons this piqued my interest, especially as they had also announce Pokémon Go Fest, a big event in Chicago. I was excited, was this going to be the UK equivalent? As time passed by it has become apparent that this event is about encouraging Pokémon Go players to explore the historic city that is Chester, rather than giving players new / better Pokémon to catch, as is anticipated in Chicago.

As we approached the event starting, further information has been published to say that players will be able to pick up a Pokémon Go PassPort, a Pokémon Go Trial Map, access Chester Castle for the first time in 20 years and even suggest a historic landmark. Also, it has been revealed that if certain objectives are met at Pokémon Go Fest the Legendary will appear and if the trainers there can beat them, they will appear in Raid battles across the world - so fingers crossed.
What am I looking to get from the event? I'm looking to get as close as possible to completing my New Years Resolution of catching all the available first generation Pokémon. Looking at the Pokémon Go Pokédex, I only need to catch 8 more to catch 'em all. They are:
  • Venusaur (40/100)
  • Sandslash (23/50)
  • Alakazam (95/100)
  • Machamp (49/100)
  • Dodrio (3/50) + another Doduo to evolve
  • Hitmonlee
  • Chansey
  • Tangela
I doubt that I'll get to catch any of the region exclusives (unless we're really lucky), but here's hoping.

Five Favourite Friday... Disney Songs

It's Friday again and for this week's Five Favourite Friday post we're looking at 'Disney Songs' (Nikki's choice).  It's a bit of a short post this week, as I've not got much to add about the songs each other than these are my favourites!

As always, I'll limit myself to only one song per film, but I have included other favourites in the honourable mentions at the end. I'm also limiting myself to songs from classic, traditional films, I'm not going to select songs from other Disney franchises (Star Wars, Marvel, etc.).
1) The Bare Necessities - Baloo / Mowgli - Jungle Book [1967]
2) A Whole New World - Aladdin / Princess Jasmin - Aladdin [1992]
3) Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - Mary Poppins / Bert - Mary Poppins [1964]

4) Hakuna Matata - Timon / Pumbaa - The Lion King [1994]

5) Be Our Guest - Lumiere / Mrs Potts - Beauty & The Beast [1991]

Other songs that deserve honourable mentions include 'You're Welcome' and 'Let It Go', both modern classics that I hope invoke the same emotions  in the future that my five songs stir in me now.  Also, from the older classics 'Heigh-ho', 'Beauty & The Beast', 'Circle Of Life', 'Under The Sea', 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight?'... seriously, there are some great Disney Songs out there that could easily have made my list. Which Disney songs would you have included in your list? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, you can check out Nikki's favourites on her blog, Just Around The Riverbend. Next week we will reveal our favourite 'MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) Characters'.

The Last Week (10/07/2017)

Monday - I was still suffering with the virus I'd picked up in the previous week, so I decided to follow the doctors advice and take plenty of rest to try to recover fully. As a result I spent all day asleep, so there's not much that I can say about the day. Despite sleeping all day I still managed to get a full nights sleep too!

Tuesday - Again, still feeling ill, I took the day off and slept in the morning. I woke shortly after lunch, so I spent the afternoon watching Wimbledon.

Wednesday - I spent the morning watching random YouTube videos and then slept in the afternoon (variety is the spice of life after all!).

Thursday - As with Tuesday, it was a case of sleeping and watching Wimbledon in slightly different ratios.

Friday - Like the rest of the week, it was a case of sleeping, watching Wimbledon and watching Watch Mojo videos on YouTube.

Saturday - I was feeling much better as the week had progressed, so I decided to go to the first home pre-season game at the newly renamed Montgomery Waters Meadow against Championship side Aston Villa. Shrewsbury won the game 2-1 which can only be good for confidence of the team.

Sunday - We left the house quite early as for some reason Nikki had decided that we were going to feed the ducks. Although I still don't know what spurred us in to going, I'm glad we did as I got to see my sons throwing arm in action. We must have spent an hour by the riverside before heading home for my sons nap. In the afternoon we went out to Telford to do some shopping, before returning to play with a Thomas the Tank Engine Trackmaster set with my son. I'm sure he was deliberately derailing the trains, but we had fun so that's all the really mattered.

Five Favourite Friday... 1st Gen Pokemon

It's Friday again and I've been excited to do this post for about six months of now (*eek*). This week saw the first anniversary of Pokémon Go's release in Europe (Happy Birthday!). In honour of Niantic's viral game that I'm still addicted to, I've decided we'll dedicate this weeks Five Favourite Friday post to the first generation Pokémon, from the Kanto region. This gives us an opportunity to pick our favourites from the original 151.

I didn't get caught up in the initial Pokémon craze, although I did watch the animated series on TV, as Ash tried to catch 'em all. So I only really got caught up in it all with the release of Pokémon Go last year, and that was because Nikki was excited for it's release! Since then I've been hooked and I've managed to catch 134 of the available 142 (excluding regional specifics and [currently] unobtainable Pokémon). I've picked my favourite five plus a handful of honourable mentions which you can see below.

1) Wartortle (#008)
Its tail is large and covered with a rich, thick fur. The tail becomes increasingly deeper in colour as Wartortle ages. The scratches on its shell are evidence of this Pokémon's toughness as a battler.

I never took to the poster boy Pickachu like everyone else, Squirtle is my favourite starter Pokémon. But since I started playing Pokémon Go I've favoured Wartortle as he was one of the first evolved Pokémon I saw in the wild.

2) Meowth (#052)
Meowth withdraws its sharp claws into its paws to slinkily sneak about without making any incriminating footsteps. For some reason, this Pokémon loves shiny coins that glitter with light.
I'm a cat lover and, other than Squirtle, Meowth was the most memorable Pokémon from the TV series to me, accompanying Team Rocket in trying to defeat Ash.
3) Arcanine (#059)
Arcanine is known for its high speed. It is said to be capable of running over 6,200 miles in a single day and night. The fire that blazes wildly within this Pokémon's body is its source of power.

Adding some fire to proceedings is Arcanine. I'm a fan of Growlithe, but when I saw the size of Arcanine (its evolution), it had to be included!

4) Gyarados (#130)
When Magikarp evolves into Gyarados, its brain cells undergo a structural transformation. It is said that this transformation is to blame for this Pokémon's wildly violent nature.

After collecting lots of Magikarp candies to try and evolve one in to Gyarados, I felt a sense of relief when I finally got the full 400 required. I did laugh though when Pokémon Go introduced Pinap berries (which increase the number of candies received from a Pokémon) and the water event shortly afterwards, making it much easier to evolve a Gyarados!
5) Jolteon (#135)
Jolteon's cells generate a low level of electricity. This power is amplified by the static electricity of its fur, enabling the Pokémon to drop thunderbolts. The bristling fur is made of electrically charged needles.

My first evolution of an Eevee, and it was soon a dependable Pokémon that featured every time I went to battle a gym. A lot of the gyms have water-based Pokémon on them near me, so the electric attacks from Jolteon prove to be super effective!

So that's my five favourite 1st gen Pokémon, I'll give special mentions to Oddish, Voltorb & Omanyte which I really like because they're cool and also Lickitung which I find amusing, running up and licking the opponent.

As always you can find Nikki's favourite Pokémon here on her blog. Next week we'll be looking at our favourite Disney songs (Nikki's choice!).

The Last Week (03/07/2017)

Monday - I had started to feel ill over the weekend, with a sore throat, so I decided to work from home to allow me to attend a doctors appointment in the afternoon. Thankfully, the doctor wasn't worried about my throat and recommended plenty of water and rest.

Tuesday - Still not feeling well, I again decided to work from home and do the minimum required of me in the knowledge it would be hugely beneficial to be in the office the next day.

Wednesday - Back to the office, it felt weird and I soon realised that I probably shouldn't have gone in. But I continued through the day.

Thursday - Despite not feeling great and questioning whether I should go or not, I attended Civil Service Live at the NEC in Birmingham. I didn't get back until 18:30, so I didn't get to spend much time with my son.

Friday - Another day working from home, trying to deal with the bug that had been affecting me all week. I ended up doing a lot more than I anticipated so didn't get chance to recover. In the evening we started catching up on some tv while we chilled out.

Saturday - An early start as we needed to get photographs sorted for our passports, in anticipation for our holiday later in the year, and also pick out some new glasses (I'd put off doing his for a number of months already - why is it we put these things off?). In the afternoon, we set about tidying our bedroom and sorting our clothes.

Sunday - We spent a bit more time in the bedroom sorting clothes, then we took a trip to Nando's for our lunch. It was the first time our son had been taken there and he wasn't impressed, thankfully me and Nikki enjoyed our meals. As Nikki's parents had returned from Holiday we went round to see them and make sure they were OK.

The Last Week (26/06/2017)

Monday - I had a really quick turn around when picking up my football kit because my train was delayed by nearly 20 minutes, which is normally the time I spend with my son at home. I'll be honest and say that I was quite frustrated at football, I know my limits, but I do try and defend and get back as quickly as I can. However, as a team we didn't defend well at all and offered very little protection to whoever was in goal. I did score a goal and I
thought my passing was ok, but I still came away feeling disappointed. When I returned home we put our son to bed and then caught up on the new series of 'The Crystal Maze', casting Richard Ayoade as the host was a stroke of genius as he was a perfect fit for leading the contestants round the maze.

Tuesday - I had worked everything out to make sure I could get back to Shrewsbury, to allow me to go to my first match of the 2017/18 season. However I hadn't planned on my train being cancelled, not that it hugely impacted my evening. I met up with my dad to go on one of our traditional trips out to Oswestry to watch TNS in their first game of the Champions League qualifiers against Europa FC from Gibraltar. Although they lost 1-2, there wasn't much between the two side and anything could happen in the second leg next week.

Wednesday - Other than spending some lovely time with my son building nursery rhyme puzzles and watching an episode of 'Jonathan Creek', not much to report from the day.

Thursday - Nothing much to report.

Friday - Nothing much to report.

Saturday - We started the day by spending several hours in the garden, beginning to tidy it after too long being neglected. It was really nice to see Nikki, my son and my mum all working to clear weeds along our fence. We then spent the afternoon with my parents in their garden enjoying the sunshine before sharing a Chinese meal with them.

Sunday - After a morning trying to get our son to take a nap, we headed round to some friends to have a catch-up and barbecue. Our friends had setup their paddling pool and trampoline in the back garden, and my son loved using both (so much so when we sort our garden out we might look at getting a trampoline).