Top Kickstarter Games this Week

1. Epitasis by Lucas Govatos

Discover and explore beautiful alien worlds, scattered with ancient technology and cryptic puzzles that echo of a time long past.

Funding Goal – $11,650 by Sunday 20th August

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

2. Rail Theory by Tryconic Studios

An action RPG with an innovative dynamic difficulty system designed around randomly generated enemies.

Funding Goal – $150,000 by Thursday 17th August

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

3. The Lighthouse by Shadow Knights Studios

Thriller with glimpses into psychotic, alternate dimensions. Search for Lily Beaumont at the abandoned Wescott Property in Maine 1964.

Funding Goal – $10,000 by Monday 14th August

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

4. Dead Matter by Quantum Integrity Software Inc

A rogue-lite that aims to quench the community’s thirst for a title that properly balances survival mechanics with fulfilling gameplay.

Funding Goal – $60,000 (Canadian) by Thursday 17th August

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

More Wine

Another triple header of wine today, with a red, a white and a rose.

 

First up is the Argentinian red 2014 Zuccardi Brazos Malbec from Valle de Vco, coming in at 14% and we got it from Majestic.  The label is funky and stylish, with the wine having an aroma of dark berries and vanilla.  Tasting without food it is a bit sharp but still pleasant and it has a warming aftertaste.  We had the Malbec with steak and it really brightened up and became much fruitier.  Overall we thought it was a great wine and we would happily buy it again.

 

zuccardi malbec

The white we also bought from Majestic and it is from the Paul Mas Estate Single Vineyard Colelction.  It is a 2015 Viognier and it comes in at 13.5%.  The label is nice and simple but it works and the aroma is elderflower and peach.  Tasting without food it had lovely subtle fruit flavours and was very easy to drink.  It was even more so when we had it alongside butternut squash risotto.  Overall it was a fantastic wine and we would definitely buy it again.

 

paul mas viognier

 

Again from Majestic is the rose 2015 Haut Vol that comes in at 12%.  As with some rose wines, it has a strange shaped bottle, though it has a simple label.  The aroma is light berries and the taste without food wasn’t great at first, but the finish was really fruity – it really grew on me.  We then had the wine alongside a Chinese pork stir-fry and it was significantly better and much fruitier.  Overall I’d probably buy again, but only for a hot summers day.

 

haut vol rose

Book Review – Shrike by George Mann

Title: Shrike

Author: George Mann

Publisher: Black Library

Setting/Series: 40k / Space Marine Legends

Published: 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78496-496-2

Publisher Link

 

Shrike is all about (you’ve guessed it) the Raven Guard Space Marine Shrike.  It looks at Shrike in three stages:

  1. As a line soldier
  2. As Shadow Captain
  3. As Chapter Master

This essentially breaks the novel down in to two novellas and a short story at the end.  The overriding themes throughout each story is the Ork Warboss Gorkrusha and the brotherhood that the Raven Guard share.

 

If I’m being honest, I had never heard of Shrike before or read that much about the Raven Guard beyond novels in the Horus Heresy series.  I bought it though because I fancied something a little bit different and this novel certainly gave that.

 

Thoughts

Shrike was one of those novels that took me a bit of time to get in to but after about 20 pages I was hooked.  Shrike is a really interesting character and it is surprisingly easy to feel empathy for him, unlike quite a lot of space marines.  His actions and thoughts are also surprisingly human; this isn’t a criticism at all, in fact I would say it is a positive.  Too often Space Marines are portrayed as inhuman and perhaps too much.  Although their superior physicality and minds take them a step above humans, it has to be remembered that they were human in the first place.

The empathy and humanity of Shrike makes him (and the novel a lot easier to understand).  I particularly thought the relationship with Shrike’s brothers Corus and Kadus was really well done.  This theme throughout the stories worked very well and tied each piece together.  The flashbacks to the three of them as initiates and the revelation the final flashback makes Shrike’s actions even more understandable.

As for the Orks and Gorkrusha, I can’t say they were portrayed any better or worse than in other novels.  Orks are Orks in the end but the final short story gave an interesting twist on Gorkrusha’s intentions.

 

Memorable Moments (no spoilers!)

  • Gorkrusha fight 1 – with Shrike as a line trooper
  • Gorkrusha fight 3 – with Shrike as Chapter Master
  • All of the flashback scenes with Shrike, Corus and Kadus
  • The interactions between Shrike and Kadus when he is Shadow Captain and then Chapter Master

 

Conclusion

Shrike is a really solid 40k and Space Marine novel.  If you are a fan of the Raven Guard or love Shrike as a character from elsewhere then this a must.  If you are a 40k and/or Space Marine fan I would also give it a go as it is something a little bit different from the norm.  Non-40k fans would probably struggle but I wouldn’t discount it either.

I think the best thing I can say is that Shrike has made me want to know a lot more about the character and the Raven Guard and I will be looking to get some of the other novels and audio dramas relating to them.

 

Further Reading

Double Beer

Today’s drinks reviews are for a couple of old favourite beers of mine: Doombar and Treason.

 

First up is Doombar from Sharp’s Brewery in Cornwall.  Being from the South-West and having visited Cornwall a lot, I came across Doombar a long time ago.  Now you can find it pretty much anywhere in the country and for a good reason – it is a really good beer.  The label is pretty classic and the look of the beer when poured is dark amber.  The aromas are lightly fragrant with hints of citrus and then the taste is lightly bitter, refreshing and again the hints of citrus.  Overall it is a really solid beer that fills a number of roles: a drink at home, a pint at the pub or I think it also goes really well with a BBQ.

Doombar

 

Next is Treason; a West Coast IPA coming in at 6% from the Uprising Craft Brewing Range from the Windsor and Eton Brewery.  I first tried a few beers from this brewery about six years ago and they weren’t anything special at the time, but now they have really upped their game.  Treason has a very striking label and a nice clear look to the beer when poured.  The aroma is very citrusy and pleasantly hoppy, with that repeated in the tasting.  Overall it is a very flavourful beer and worth trying.  I would say though that you would only drink one in a sitting, another would make too citrusy.

 

Treason

Top Kickstarter Games this Week

1. Harold Halibut by Slow Bros

A modern adventure game about the daily routine on a spaceship stuck undersea. Stop-motion look, exploration, story and humor! 

Funding Goal – €150,000 by Friday 4th August

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

2. Fight Knight by Thomas LeBlanc

A Bombastic First Person Dungeon BRAWLER Set in a Unique Fantasy World

Funding Goal – $13,000 (Canadian) by Tuesday 1st August

Kickstarter Link

3. Neon City Riders by Mecha Studios

Explore a decaying futuristic city in search of items, superpowers and companions to free all the turfs and unite their people again!

Funding Goal – $150,000 (Mexican) by Tuesday 8th August

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

4. Arbiter by Jordan Scott

Arbiter is an action game about transformation! Use the powers of your enemies against them to save humanity!

Funding Goal – $10,000 (Canadian) by Saturday 29th July

Kickstarter Link

Game Website

Memories of Arran

Continuing on from my short articles on Pitlochry and Easdale, next up is the beautiful island of Arran.

 

Arran is often called Scotland in miniature and this is true, with its highlands, lowlands, forests, glens and a beautiful coastline.  Arran is a special place and many people fall in love with it and go back again and again.

 

Arran1
The Isle of Arran

 

Location

Arran is just off the west coast of Scotland but east of the Mull of Kintyre.  To get there you need to get a ferry from Ardossan which is just under an hour by car from central Glasgow.  The ferry crossing only takes about an hour and takes you to the main settlement on the island – Brodick.  All in all, this makes Arran the most accessible of the Scottish Islands and probably the only one you can really visit if you are taking a short break to Scotland from the south of England or further afield.

 

For accomodation there are numerous hotels and B&Bs but I’d recommend self-catering.  The co-op supermarket in Brodick is big enough to furnish most supplies you would need and self-catering will give you the best freedom for exploring the Island.

 

Places to Visit

The main settlements to visit on the island are:

  • Brodick – the ferry port and it has many places to stay and eat, as well as the largest supermarket on the island.  Touristy things to do include Brodick Castle, Brodick Brewery and the Isle of Arran Heritage Museum.
  • Lochranza – in the North of the island and also a small ferry port for journeys to and from Kintyre.  Attractions here include the Isle of Arran Distillery and the ruined Lochranza Castle.
  • Lamlash – the main residential settlement on the island with nice views across the bay but nothing particularly touristy to see.

Lochranza
Lochranza

 

Things to Do

There is plenty to do on the island, particularly if you enjoy nature.  Some highlights include:

  • Goatfell – the largest mountain on the island and also one of the most accessible, with clear routes available just to the North of Brodick
  • The King’s Caves – near Blackwaterfoot on the west side of the island are the gorgeous King’s Caves.  It takes a while to walk there from a nearby car park but it is worth the journey with lots of hollowed out caves on the beach.
  • Glenashdale Falls – one of my favourite walks took us through a forest by a river and then eventually up to the gorgeous Glenashdale Falls.  Again it is a bit of a walk to get there but it is worth it.
  • The Holy Isle – we didn’t go there but you can get there by boat on the east side of Arran.  Even if you don’t go though, the views across to it are pretty impressive.
  • Arran Aromatics – Ok so it isn’t nature, but the Arran Aromatics shop on the road north between Brodick and Lochranza is worth visiting.  You can also have a pretty impressive tour and create your own soap.

 

Glendash Falls
Glenashdale Falls

 

Food

If you want gourmet dining, then Arran isn’t for you.  If you just like good food though, then Arran has it in spades.  A few highlights are:

  • Cafe Thyme – a lovely cafe on the west side of the island near Machrie.  We went her a couple of times and had a nice lunch and some cake.  Very friendly and helpful staff with a great children’s play area and a few shops nearby as well.  The best bit though are the clear views across to the West.
  • The Sandwich Station – Near the ferry stop in the North of Lochranza is an unassuming shack that you wouldn’t think was one of the best sandwich places ever.  We had some amazing sandwiches here and if you are anywhere near the North of the island around lunchtime, this is the place to go.
  • The Lagg Hotel – The Lagg Hotel is a cosy little place on the South of the Island and I would recommend it for a rainy or cold day.  We had a nice lunch here and dinner looked good as well.

 

Summary

Arran is a lovely island and a great and accessible place to experience a Scottish Island.  Whether you are a couple on your own or a family with children, there is something for everyone.  I hope you enjoy Arran as much as I have.

Cycling Review June

June is a busy month in pro cycling but is mainly the calm before the storm that is the Tour de France for men and the Giro Rosa for women.  There are also all the national championships that mean every country gets a couple of winners this month!

 

Men – June

  • Races
    • World Tour – 2
    • Stage Races – 22
    • Stages – 104
    • One-day – 100
  • Individuals
    • Overall wins – Multiple riders with 3
    • One-day wins – Multiple riders with 2
    • Stage wins – Malucelli with 2
    • Days in lead of a stage race – De Gent with 5
    • Distance won – Demare with 620km
  • Teams
    • Overall wins – Bora – Hansgrohe with 10
    • One-day wins – Bora – Hansgrohe with 6
    • Stage wins – Multiple teams with 6
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Multiple teams with 10
    • Distance won – Bora – Hansgrohe  with 1653.9km
  • Countries
    • Overall wins – Multiple countries with 15
    • One-day wins – Belgium with 7
    • Stage wins – France with 12
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Multiple countries with 11
    • Distance won – Belgium with 2209km
  • Rider of the month – Demare with his impressive victories, including in the Criterium and French Nationals

Women – June

  • Races
    • World Tour – 1
    • Stage Races – 1
    • Stages – 6
    • One-day – 74
  • Individuals
    • Overall wins – Noskova with 3
    • One-day wins – Noskova with 3
    • Stage wins – Multiple riders with 1
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Niewiadoma with 3
    • Distance won – Noskova with 220km
  • Teams
    • Overall wins – Boels-Dolmans with 7
    • One-day wins – Multiple teams with 5
    • Stage wins – Boels-Dolmans with 2
    • Days in lead of a stage race – WM3 Energie with 4
    • Distance won – Boels-Dolmasn with 447km
  • Countries
    • Overall wins – Multiple countries with 4
    • One-day wins – Multiple countries with 3
    • Stage wins – Australia with 2
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Poland with 4
    • Distance won – Netherlands with 434
  • Rider of the month – Niewiadoma with her Tour of Britain win

Men – Season So Far

  • Individuals
    • Overall wins – Multiple riders with 8
    • One-day wins – Van Avermaet with 4
    • Stage wins – Gaviria with 8
    • Stage race wins – Multiple riders with 3
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Dumoulin with 9
    • Distance won – Valverde with 1449.4km
    • Points jerseys – Multiple riders with 3
    • Climbers jerseys – Multiple riders with 2
    • Young riders jerseys – Bernal with 4
    • Time trial wins – Dennis with 4
  • Teams
    • Overall wins – Quick-Step Floors with 33
    • One-day wins – BMC Racing with 10
    • Stage wins – Quick-Step Floors with 25
    • Stage race wins – Multiple teams with 6
    • Days in lead of a stage race – BMC Racing with 28
    • Distance won – Quick-Step Floors with 5339.5
    • Points jerseys – Multiple teams with 4
    • Climbers jerseys – Manzana Postobon with 5
    • Young riders jerseys – Multiple teams with 4
    • Team Time Trial wins – BMC Racing with 3
    • Team classification wins – Movistar with 6
  • Countries
    • Overall wins – France with 78
    • One-day wins – Italy with 21
    • Stage wins – France with 60
    • Stage race wins – Multiple countries with 11
    • Days in lead of a stage race – France with 47
    • Distance won – France with 12106.54km
    • Points jerseys – France with 10
    • Climbers jerseys – France with 8
    • Young riders jerseys – Colombia with 10
  • Rider of the season so far – A hard choice between Valverde, Van Avermaet and Dumoulin – a tie I think

Women – Season So Far

  • Individuals
    • Overall wins – D’Hoore with 6
    • One-day wins – Lepisto with 4
    • Stage wins – Multiple riders with 3
    • Stage race wins – Multiple riders with 1
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Multiple riders with 5
    • Distance won – D’Hoore with 652.8km
    • Points jerseys – Majerus with 2
    • Climbers jerseys – Hall with 2
    • Young riders jerseys – Klein with 2
    • Time trial wins – Moolman with 2
  • Teams
    • Overall wins – Boels-Dolmans with 17
    • One-day wins – Multiple teams with 5
    • Stage wins – Boels-Dolmans with 7
    • Stage race wins – Multiple teams with 2
    • Days in lead of a stage race – United Healthcare with 9
    • Distance won – Boels-Dolmans with 1536.4km
    • Points jerseys – Boels-Dolmans with 2
    • Climbers jerseys – Multiple teams with 2
    • Young riders jerseys – Cervelo-Bigla with 3
    • Team Time Trial wins – Boels-Dolmans with 2
    • Team classification wins – Multiple teams with 2
  • Countries
    • Overall wins – Netherlands with 23
    • One-day wins – Netherlands with 14
    • Stage wins – USA with 11
    • Stage race wins – Netherlands with 3
    • Days in lead of a stage race – Multiple countries with 10
    • Distance won – Netherlands with 2382.1km
    • Points jerseys – Multiple countries with 2
    • Climbers jerseys – USA with 2
    • Young riders jerseys – USA with 3
  • Rider of the season so far – Still Anna Van Der Breegan for her Ardennes triple

3 More Wines

Continuing my series of wine reviews, here are another three today, two reds and a white.

 

Kicking us off  is the red , coming at 13.5%.  It has a traditional label as expected from a french wine and the aroma is very pleasant, with hints of vanilla and red berries.  Without food the wine was dry and slightly sharp but drinkable enough.  We then had the wine alongside some lamb and it improved the wine but not significantly.  We finished the bottle off the next night alongside some steak and it was significantly improved.  Overall though I found the wine slightly disappointing and I’ve had much better Cotes du Rhone for cheaper prices.

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Next up is the Yalumba 2016 Viognier from South Australia, coming at at 13.5%.  The label is quite classy and well done, with the wine having an aroma of soft cheese (!) but only very lightly.  The taste without food was floral and sharp, but in a good way.  Tasting with food (a cauliflower curry), the wine cut through it perfectly and I would recommend it alongside Asian food.  Overall it was a great wine and I would buy again.

Yalumba

 

Finally we have the 2014 La Chapelle de Bordeaux, coming at 12.5%.  As per usual for a French wine, the label is of a chateau.  The aroma of the wine was of slightly sharp fruit, in particularly blackberries and spicy plums.  The taste without food was fruity but it wasn’t a drinker on its own and became blander the more you drank.  We then had the wine with steak and was even sharper and blander.  Overall it was a disappointing wine and one I will not be buying again.

La chapelle

 

 

 

The Red, the White and the Rose

A few wine reviews today from three bottles we tried earlier this month.

Kicking us off is the 2015 Recchia Red Bardolino from Waitrose that comes in at 12.5%.  The label is minimalist yet stylish and the aromas from the wine are light berries, particularly sharp blackberries.  Tasting without food it is a very nice and drinkable wine, almost refreshing and very summery.  We then had the wine with some Greek salad and Lamb and it was just as good.  Overall it is a lovely wine to drink on its own or with food and also very reasonably priced at £7.99.

recchia-bardolino-veneto-italy-10532016

Next up is Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference White Gavi from 2016 and at 12.5%.  It has a classy label and lovely aromas of elderflower and peach.  The taste without food was dry but also refereeing with low acidity and overall very easy to drink.  We then had the wine with roast chicken and the flavours really burst forth and improved the wine immeasurably.  Overall it is a good wine to have with the appropriate food and not badly priced at £8.

sainsburys-taste-the-difference-gavi-2016-0-__medium

Last and unfortunately least is another Sainsbury’s wine, the Marques de Montino Rioja from 2015 at 13%.  It has a nice traditional label and a light aroma of strawberries.  The taste without food was slightly sharp but quite well rounded.  We then had the wine alongside the pasta and it softened the taste a bit but there was no measurable improvement.  Overall the wine is fine and reasonably priced at £5.50 but I did expect better and I won’t be buying again.

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Memories of Pitlochry

Pitlochry is a special place for me, having been there numerous times during my childhood and when I lived in Scotland a couple of year ago.  Although special to me for nostalgic reasons, it is also an excellent place to visit in its own right.  If you do decide to go to Pitlochry it is worth going for a long weekend, or if you are exploring the wider area it might be worth using it as a base for a week.

Pitlochry
Pitlochry from afar

 

Location

Pitlochry is in the heart of Scotland, just before you reach the Highlands.  It is in North Perthsire, approximately a 1hr 40min drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow.  You can also reach it by train from Edinburgh.

Part of what makes Pitlochry such a good place to visit is what it is nearby:

  • The Cairngorms are just to the North
  • Perth is only 45 mins away
  • Blair Atholl is 15 mins away with attractions including a castle, working mill and the excellent House of Bruar
  • The lovely town of Aberfeldy is 25 mins away
  • Loch Tummel is just to the West with some excellent views and walks

 

The Town

Pitlochry isn’t a huge town but it has enough to keep anyone entertained and well-fed for a while.  The high street has numerous shops and restaurants as well as more mundane (but essential) facilities such as good car parking, a post office and a petrol station.

Shopping highlights on my last trip there (early 2016) included:

  • MacDonalds Butchers – where we got some excellent homemade sausages
  • Drinkmonger – where I got a nice special bottle of whisky I’m still working my way through

For eating there are some excellent choices and the ones we can recommend from across all our trips there are:

 

As for accomodation, the one place I can recommend is where we stayed on our last overnight trip – Craigatin House B&B.  It is easily one of the best B&Bs I’ve every stayed in, with excellent rooms and fantastic breakfasts.  The owners and staff were also very helpful and friendly.  Highly recommended

Craigatin
Craigatin

 

What to Do

As noted above there are lots of places near Pitlochry to do things but there are also plenty of places you can walk to in and very near the Town.  My favourites are

  • Black Spout Wood and Waterfall – we had a lovely walk round here in the autumn and the waterfall was amazing.
4A319244-C157-49EC-84F1-04808F2CE7BF
The Edradour Black Spout Waterfall
  • Blair Athol Distillery – the home of Bells Whisky.  We had a great guided tour round here with an excellent guide.  Worth checking out the single malt of Blair Athol whilst you are here.
blair-athol-distillery
Blair Athol Distillery

Also recommended are:

  • Pitlochry Festival Theatre
  • Edradour Distillery
  • Faskally Wood
  • Pitlochry Dam
9C49494F-3F92-4FEE-AE72-CE99D609C438
View from the top of the dam