Chilli growing

This year marks my third year of growing chillies, mostly what are reffered to as super hots, chillies like the Carolina Reaper or the Ghost pepper, with a few milder ones for good measure.

Trinidad Scorpion chillies

I am defintiely what you might call a hobby gardener, at best. I only have a vagues idea about what I’m doing and each year offers new lessons. so far I’ve learnt that the plants like consistent warm weather, which we don’t get very often in the U.K. last year we had a freak heat wave and I had more chillies than I knew what to do with. this year, the weather has been all over the place and so my yield of chillies is about a third of what it was at this time last year. Other than that I’ve learnt that they’re quite sturdy plants, it’s not been cold (relatively) but quite wet compared to this time last year, but the plants seem to be doing well and still producing fruit.

A big yellow 7 pot douglah

Last year I did a bit of experimenting with the chillies, trying different sauces and “jams” as well as trying them in various meals and even doing several batches of chilli chocolate, of varying heat profiles some of which were more successful than others. This year I’ve stocked up on various jars and bottles so there will probably be a bit more experimenting.

Bolivian Rainbow chillies

There is something satisfying about growing your own food, even if it is only chillies. Growing them from seed to fruiting plants requires a fair amount of work to begin as the plants try to establish themselves, but once they get going they are fairly hardy. Each chilli has an individual flavour and heat profiles that change slightly as you cook with them.

The picked chillies so far

I can’t remember how or why I started growing chillies, I’ve liked spicy food for years, my go to curry of choice was a Vindaloo for a long time. I’ve been challenged to eat hot food more than I can count and I think when I first learned about the Carolina Reaper, I think I knew I had to at least try it. Then I think that’s when I found out that you could buy seeds and seedlings with kits to grow them and figured it would be a good challenge.

Purple Cayenne peppers

Three years down the line, I’ve managed to keep one of the original four plants alive and I’ve added to the number plants that I have and the variety of heat that the chillies have. I feel like I’ve learnt a fair amount about looking after plants and gardening, I even enjoy it, which not that long ago I’m not sure I would have believed.

Anyway plenty more updates to come as I pick, taste and cook with my crop as it expands.

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My top 10 favourite games of all time

One of my favourite hobbies is video games, it has been for a long time, so I’d thought I’d share what my favourite games are and why.

10. Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

This game very much pleased the inner child inner me and satisfied the adult gamer I’ve become. An open world Zelda game sounded awesome when it was first announced and I was excited for it. Playing it is incredibly satisfying exploring the beatiful world is a lot of fun and the story still has a typical legend of zelda feel to it, with plenty of puzzles along the way.

9. Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 is one of my favourite action RPGs, I feel it got the balance between action, story and RPG elements pretty spot on. I sunk hours into this game, trying to gain the trust of all the squad members and exploring the galaxy to help defeat the reapers on any front.

8. Crash Bandicoot

One of my favourite platformer games, also one of the first games I remember playing when I was younger. A classic platformer ballencing fun and a challenge. Back when video game companies had mascots crash is one who is fondly remembered by most people.

7. Spyro the Dragon: Year of the Dragon

Another game of my youth, going through various worlds, as a dragon no less, gave me and my brother hours of fun, gathering as many gems as possible and getting all the eggs. Of course this game on it’s predecessors bringing some awesome new mini games (skateboarding Spyro anyone?).

6. Assassins Creed 2

I knew I was going to choose one Assassins Creed game for this list and it was either going to be be 2 or Black Flag. But in the end Ezio’s charm and the slightly more interesting setting and story of 2 is what drew me to put in on this list. I think many people have been drawn in by Assassins Creeds pseudo history and I still think it’s part of why the series has been around for along as it has.

5. Pokémon Yellow

The first ever pokémon I ever and still one of my favourites. There is a slight rosey tint to how I view this game, but playing through Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu, reminds me of what this game originally was, plain simple fun, with a slight competitive edge, as you try to out collect your friends and try and get pokémon they couldn’t and beat gym leaders they struggle with.

4. Goldeneye

For people of a certain age, Goldeneye is their first experience of a First Person Shooter. For me I’m pretty certain that this is the first game I ever played. I remember playing it at my now brother-in-law families house, not long after our family moved in to the village where me and my siblings grew up. Rose tinted glasses aside, this game is an absolute classic, it was a big step forward for shooters and what those kind of games could do. Not to mention it’s brilliant multiplayer mode that could real heated real quick, this game had the capability of making people “salty” before the concept of it was even in a gamers vocabulary. As well as being brilliant fun for split screen multiplayer it gave us an opportunity to be Bond, James Bond and 7 year old was always going to love that.

3. Red Dead Redemption

This game is a masterpiece, the story telling, world exploring, all the things you could do and character progression through this game were all part of what drew me in to this game. The quest to be reunited with your family, tinged with vengenge for what you former gang members did to you early in the game, made the story seem so personal and the ending of the main story that much more of a gut punch. There are also plent of key emotional moments in the game that really draw you in to the game, for example crossing in to Mexico for the first time was genuinely incredible and John Marston as a character has some very relatable traits, . The add on portion of the game Undead Nightmare was also great keeping much of the tone of the main game, but adding a sense of humour and adding more fantasy elements, it made going back to the game even more fun.

2. Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time

Possibly the game that well and truly started my interest in video games, the world that it’s set in, the openess of it and the absolutely classic story about saving the princess from the bad guy completely sucked me in. Playing through various levels and challenges, getting more and more powerful equipment was the right balance of fun and challenging. The music for this game is also excellent, it’s one of a few games where I thought music has played and important part in the game.

1. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

As someone who suffers with Mental Illness, I was intrigued when I learnt about this game. hearing that the developers went to the trouble of fully researching what it’s like to live with mental illness, in the case of the game, it’s psychosis. They spent time talking to specialist doctors and psychiatrists, as well as patients and people who have experienced psychosis. Not only is this game beautiful, it is thought provoking and challenging, both as a game and personally. I don’t think I’ve played as a video game character that I’ve related to as much as Senua in this game. Her journey through Niflheim and Helheim, struggling with the voices and doubts of her abilities, rings very true for me.

If you like this content and would like to support me, there are a couple of ways to do so, firstly through Patreon where you can get rewarded for supporting the blog, there is also Buy Me A Coffee and Ko-fi which are almost like a tipping service.

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

As we are coming to end of Mental Health Awareness week, I hope you will indulge me, as I Ramble a bit about Mental Health and why it is so important.

People who have come to this blog in the past, will know that I have Depression. I was diagnosed back in 2012, I think I knew I was depressed and had been for a while or had had episodes of depression in the past.

I try to make these post a start of a conversation on mental health, because being open and honest about it is how we reduce the stigma surrounding it. My depression, on bad days, often manifests itself as suicidal thoughts and feelings of frustration and general sense of despondency and helplessness. I don’t plan for a future because I don’t see much of a future for myself. I’m also generally more irritable and quicker to anger.

I think having Asperger’s Syndrome complicates things as well, I don’t particularly enjoy the standard night out and that can be isolating, of course we all know there are links between social isolation, loneliness and depression.

Too many loved ones are lost to suicide and mental illness, it is one of the biggest challenges faced by society today and we shouldn’t be quiet about it, theres no shame in admitting not everything is OK, so if you need to talk to someone please do.

Opening up about mental health can be incredibly helpful, like a weight off your shoulders, so if you think you might need help, don’t be afraid to ask, there are so many people out there willing to help. Here’s a link to the NHS guide to accessing mental health services. There also Samaritans and CALM.

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Highlights of 2018

Another year has ended and provides an opportunity to reflect. At the beginning of the year there was a family ski trip to Meribel, through the spring and into the summer I ran three half marathons in three and a bit months. I started writing for which has been a great experience.

Skiing is always good fun, this time we visited Meribel, in the French Alps in February. It’s somewhere I’ve not been before, so it’s always good to visit somewhere new.

The half marathons were hard work, three different weather conditions, made them all challenging in different ways. Warwick half was just after the beast from the east so was cold and windy.

Stratford-on-Avon half was fairly warm comparatively and made it harder to breathe.

Leamington Spa Half was almost slap bang in the middle of one of the warmest summers that I can remember even at nine o’clock in the morning it was warm and it only got warmer.

Writing for Darkworld has been good fun and challenging in equal measure. Making sure that I write coherently enough to get my opinion on a game across in a way that communicates accurately what I think or feel about a game isn’t very easy to begin with, but I feel like I’ve leaned how to do it as I’ve gone along.

Well here’s to 2019 and the challenges it brings!

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World Mental Health Day and an update on my own journey to recovery.

So pretty much a year on from my last World Mental Health Day post I figured it was a good time to provide an update on where I’m at with my mental health issues.

I had to back through some of my old posts to figure out what had changed, if anything. I would say on the whole, there have been some changes, more for the good I guess.

The main change is that I am receiving treatment for my depression, in the form of antidepressants, which I’m on the highest dose of this particular drug. I’m also going to counselling every couple of weeks. I think for me the two side by side have worked well for me, so it will be good to see where I go from here.

In terms of my overall outlook, it’s getting better, I still have bad days to struggle through every so often, but they’re more manageable now, so that’s progress I guess. I’ve done things that I’m proud of since this time last year that have helped, I ran three half marathons in three and a bit months (my body still hasn’t forgiven for that), I’ve started learning the guitar, unfortunately I’m still a way off being a mega rock star.

So things are going OK I guess and we shall see what happens.

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Book Writing

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to write a book, I think it will be an interesting journey and a way to keep me busy and as a potential income stream in the future.

It’s still early doors yet but I’ve been brainstorming a few ideas around for a few weeks now to the point where I have the basic skeleton of a plot and have started writing the first chapter. I won’t be giving away too much now at the moment, just that it is a medieval fantasy. I believe it will be a good story and I am excited to share it once it is finished, hopefully, people will feel the same.

I’ve always been tempted by the idea of writing a book and attempted it a few years ago, but lost my work when my hard drive on my computer at the time got corrupted. This time I think I’ve learned to always have multiple saves.

I suppose I ought to list my inspirations so that people get an idea of what the book might be like as it takes shape. I’ve always had a love of fantasy and science fiction, so it makes sense to me that I would be drawn to one of these if I were to choose to write a novel. In terms of fantasy writers and their works, I love J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, not just lord of the rings but the extended universe as well, it may seem wordy and like wading through verbal treacle at times, but there is such a broad universe to get absorbed into that avid readers can dip in and out of to get a sense of the details within middle earth.

Another favourite of mine growing up was the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix, I felt it was an intriguing take on a world with magic users and the role within that world to protect it. I also liked the trilogies take on the mechanics of how magic is constructed, how magic is a series “letters” and symbols that have to be drawn to be used. Having a female protagonist was also quite refreshing as there just aren’t enough in fantasy fiction.

Thirdly Harry Potter has been a big influence on the sort of material I read and enjoy, the first book was released when I was seven years old, a time where I was getting to grips with reading independently. I was absorbed by this series of books as were many people around the world, it became so popular in our household that we had three copies from the third book onwards, we had them on tape and CD, for long family car journeys. it’s a series of books that will be precious to me for a long time to come.

During this process, I was hoping to be able to support myself and to be able to pay for publishing services from an editor or a publishing house, but it varies from £300 to £800, which I couldn’t hope to afford right now. In order to try and raise some funds I have set up a Patreon which is linked here:

Patreon is a service for creators to help with funding, it allows people to subscribe a certain amount per month to help support their favourite creators, if you wish to support me through this way there will be rewards for doing so, for example, an early preview of chapters or the book as a whole, there will be other rewards available as soon as I manage to arrange them.

There is also a tipping service called Buy Me a Coffee if you don’t want to pay a monthly amount but instead give a one-off tip, it would be equally appreciated, the link for that is as follows:

Anyway thanks again for letting me ramble for a bit, hopefully, there will be regular updates coming soon.

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Why do I like Metal music?

This question was posed to me by my brother over the last festive period and although I did answer it at the time as best I could, I’ve been thinking on it further in order to try and give a more articulate answer. But because I’m terrible at setting myself structured deadlines on my personal blog, I’ve been sitting on this/adding to it whenever I remember that this post is in my drafts. Metal is probaly my favourite genre of music but it isn’t the only genre I listen to, I’d say my music taste is fairly eccentric, but maybe that’s another post.

I find Metal music helps relax me weirdly, certain songs and albums have a certain rhythm and pace to them that helps me zone out, I find that the rhythm and pace sometimes get my imagination going as well. I also find it focuses me, helps me concentrate on days where I might need to get things done, it drives out distractions. It’s cathartic to listen to, through the noise it can convey a lot of things. From stories and emotions to fantasies and a few others. Sometimes it acts as a release for when I’m fed up or angry with something.

I find it helps my running as well, stick on something loud and fast and I find myself almost subconsciously driven by it. Like a war drum that signals at what pace things should be happening and communicate a sense of urgency to proceedings. having a pace setter also helps with running, so having something fast paced helps, plus it stops my brain from thinking too hard on why I’m running in the first place.

People who don’t listen to metal struggle to see past the noise, but as with any form of music, if you give a chance you’ll discover the subtleties to it. Metal can convey an awful lot of things if you listen hard enough, it isn’t just loud noise. It can tell a story, taking you on an adventure. Albums can be like a book where the individual songs are the chapters of the story.

The last few years have been a bit of a renaissance of my love of metal music, I’ve discovered so many great groups and artists and an awful lot of great female fronted metal bands, showing that women kick ass as much as the men.

Essentially there are a load of awesome bands out there making absolutely mega music and I wanted to showcase some of it and now I’m learning to play guitar I get to be jealous of these guys while working towards being even remotely on the same level as them.

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