Pip came home today, She's not 100%, but she seems perky enough. The vet told us there is a virus doing the rounds - they admitted eight dogs yesterday with sickness and diarrhea - so it's probably a bug Pip caught and not a reaction to a change in food or anything like that. Even so, we've been advised to be careful when trying her with anything new. Mix small amounts of the new with tried and tested foods until we can be sure she's not going to have an adverse reaction. The vet's bill was just shy of £220, which is a lot, but not as much as I feared.

We took out pet insurance this evening.

Following advice from my gaming guru Oliver I unlocked the achievement 'Bridge Player' in Painkiller H&D.

I bought some more games, in case I run out (joke!).

The first race of the MotoGP season was on BBC2. I have two British riders to cheer on this year. Cal Crutchlow finished 5th while his teammate Bradley Smith fell off while running in 11th. Oh well.


We've had an unpleasant and somewhat stressful couple of days. Pip's ...(people of a nervous disposition may wish to look away now)....had really bad diarrhea. It started at 4am on Thursday morning with her whining to be let outside. By Thursday night we were in a bit of a state with a dog that clearly felt uncomfortable and wanted to pace up and down, but didn't seem to be aware of the shit dribbling out of her rear end. I didn't go to bed last night, I played games on my PC*, a shivering leaky dog wrapped in a bath towel curled up in my lap. Every hour or so I unwrapped and bathed her. Poor love couldn't understand what was happening to her.

Midday today my dad and I took her to the vet. She's been tested for parvo and the results came back negative, which was a relief, so it's probably a change of diet (we changed brands a couple of days ago) or she's eaten something she shouldn't have while on our walks. (This is highly likely. She's a spaniel. Nuff said.) They've kept her in overnight to re-hydrate and to get some antibiotics into her. I'm hoping we can bring her home tomorrow, sans squits.

There's never a good time for a mishap like this, but it's particularly bad timing as we'd booked a weekend away in Llandudno. Jill and Heather were really looking forward to it, as was I. Disappointment all round. We'll just have to make it another weekend.

*My thanks to Oliver, a Steam friend in France who stayed up with me, played co-op and chatted to keep my mind off things. You can meet the nicest people while gaming.


I called out a heating engineer to look at the boiler as it's making one hell of racket. He diagnosed a faulty heat exchanger which will cost nearly £400 to replace. He was straight with me and suggested I'd be better of having a new boiler. To add wight to his advice; he doesn't sell and fit new boilers, only repairs them, so it's not like he stands to gain if I buy a new 'un. We've had the current one about five years, that's all, but it's already cost us £440 in repairs. Add to that another £400 for a heat exchanger and it does look like a false economy if its reliability over the next five years is similar. A new boiler though... You're looking at around £1000 + installation. Bugger.

I'm still absorbing the news that we will be losing Iain Banks to cancer within the year. Terrible, terrible news.

Some new games added to the Steam library. Some through trades, some through sales: Torchlight II, Spec Ops: The Line, Crazy Machines, Crazy Machines 1.5, Angry Birds Space, A Game of Dwarves, Defenders of Ardania, They Bleed Pixels, Painkiller Hell and Damnation DLC, and Quantum Conundrum DLC. That probably looks a lot but I spent around £15 and it'll keep me cheerfully occupied for hundreds of hours.

Playing: The Cave, F1 Race Stars and Dynamite Jack.
Reading: Desmond Morris' The Naked Man, and Jasper Fforde's One of our Thursdays is Missing.


I hope you all enjoyed Good Friday. It was nice to have Jill and Heather at home with nothing to do but sit around and chat and read and eat chocolate. I must have spent about two hours sorting out iTunes and the virus-checker on the family laptop. Heather asked me to take a look because she couldn't transfer her music to her iPod. Dad to the rescue. It seems I have my uses after all.

'Cloud Atlas' came in the post. It's ex-library stock (copies that are not ex-library change hands for silly money on ebay) but it's in satisfactory condition. The postie also brought me a cheque from Webberley's Bookshop for the five copies of 'Lemon Man' I gave them. I need to inquire whether they have sold the books or mistaken my delivery note for an invoice. If it's the former I'll cheer and ask if they'll take more.

We had kedgeree for tea, a recipe from Jamie Oliver's 15-minute meals book. Jill hasn't managed to do one of the recipes in less than half an hour yet. Still, it's lovely grub. Although I preferred the kedgeree we had a few weeks ago when she cooked it according to a Hairy Bikers recipe. Jill loves cooking and I love eating. We are well matched in that respect.

I played and finished The Cave this evening. A decent action-adventure game. Some of the puzzles were brain bending. So much so I cheated and looked up a couple of hints online. To see all the game I'd have to play it through several times with different characters, who wold be able to explore areas that were locked on previous playthroughs... But I don't think I'll bother. It's not like I'm short of unplayed games. And as I bought F1 All-Star Racing today and Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken that list is getting longer and longer.


I have had a muzzy head all day. It's felt like eyestrain, so I haven't done much reading or gaming or, well, much of anything really. I even skived off taking Pip for a walk this afternoon. It's too bloomin' cold out there!

Bought a mini-bundle of games from Humble Bundle. They are doing weekly offers now. Gawd help me.

Watched a Terry Pratchett documentary about his return to Borneo 18 years after he went there to film a documentary about the plight of the orang utans. It was nice to see him ambling around, but sad to watch him struggling because of his Alzheimer's. And sad to see how the rainforest the orang utans live in is still diminishing.   


Treacherous underfoot today. LIke wet, corrugated glass. If I didn't have to walk Pip I'd have stayed indoors. Glad I didn't though. The park was beautiful.
Queens park

I bought Depeche Mode's new album Delta Machine on iTunes for £10, then found it for £5 on Amazon. Bugger. I can console myself knowing the iTunes version has a few extra tracks, but still. A fiver difference. I'll say it again: Bugger!

Played Puddle on Steam. As games go it's very imaginative. You control fluids as they 'escape' from a beaker. I've nurtured plants, got into a lab, got made into a analgesic by a scientist and then travelled through his body.I am now I'm going through the sewers. Yes, I've been pissed out. By a scientist. Charming, eh? So, it's well made, quite clever and it's certainly unique. What a shame then that it's kinda boring.

Heather has fallen by the wayside. She no longer wants to watch Red Dwarf with me. I will watch them alone from now on. Tonight it was 7.04: Duct Soup. Started a bit ropey, with Kochanski's histrionics being almost embarrassing to watch, but picked up and turned into a decent episode. Better than I remember, actually.

Reading The Naked Man by Desmond Morris. It's a sister (brother?) volume to 2004's The Naked Woman, which was a fantastic read.

Bought Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell on ebay. 
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Lots more snow fell last night, and it was far too cold to get my camera out so here's a pic from yesterday.

Black-headed gulls

We watched The Amazing Spider-Man tonight. Why did they feel the need to go back to Spidey's origins? What a pointless reboot of a franchise. You spend the first hour wanting to fast-forward the 'Parker being bullied at school, bitten by spider, Uncle Ben dying, designing a costume' bit so you can watch something fresh and exciting. Oh well. At least the bags of pistachios and crisps were nice.

Playing a game called Puddle. It's probably a good game on tablets where you physically tilt the unit to manoeuvre things on the screen, but simply right-clicking and left-clicking the mouse to 'tilt' gets old pretty quickly.


It's a bit late for snow, but that hasn't stopped it coming down thick and fast. No school for Heather, which really saddened her. Not.

Queens Park, Longton

One advantage to the snow is it makes Pip more visible. I can let her off the lead and not worry too much about keeping an eye on her. That said, she is extremely good and comes when I call her.

Mum and Dad came round about midday, as per usual on a Friday.

Played and completed a game called DLC Quest. Not much to it really. Worth the £1.50 I paid for it in the Steam sale, but only just. I keep meaning to start Skyrim but swerve away from it at the last minute. I'm daunted by the scale!

Reading 'Chomp', a YA novel by one of my favourite crime authors, Carl Hiaasen. I should finish it tonight if I don't fall asleep too quickly. S'been a pretty good read, though not as good as his adult fiction.

I was saddened to read about the death of James Herbert. I went through a phase of reading all his books, one after the other. While some were slash horror, which I've never cared for, I remember being utterly chilled and wowed by 'Haunted' and 'Moon'. 

Catching up

I was going to start this post by saying I hadn't posted for nearly a week, but a glance at my LJ tells me it's actually closer to a fortnight. Oops. You miss a day and...well, it kinda slips away from you, doesn't it? Part of the problem for me, and I'm talking about many things here, not just my LJ, is that I ask myself what's the point. Big mistake. It's a foot on the slippery slope to apathy. I haven't done any substantial work on the novel since before Christmas. I've pretty much convinced myself that no one other than my long-suffering agent will read it, and a handful of editors who will reject it. I don't say this out of a lack of self-belief - I actually think WHITE HIDE is a bloody good book (but ha, that's my opinion) - but I've become acclimatised to rejections and adopted a...well, I suppose it's a philosophical attitude to rejection. This is okay until you ask yourself "What's the point?" It's a self-defeating question. And a rhetorical one. I don't expect you to answer it. :)


I do enjoy writing these LJ posts. They give my day a sense of purpose. Or the appearance of a sense of purpose. Something like that. So.

This past week I read David Mitchell's 'Black Swan Green', as recommended by Rachel. What a cracking novel. It's set in 1982 from the pov of a young teenager struggling to fit in at high school. Often, when I'm reading a novel, I'll populate it with faces I know, usually actors or faces from my past. I had to resist doing that with 'Black Swan Green'. It would have made it too real. A painful journey down memory lane. I was aware that part of me needed to keep its distance. Remain detached. I'm bidding on a copy of the author's better-known 'Cloud Atlas' on eBay.

I was in the Sentinel on Saturday. There were a few factual errors, some glaring, some not, but overall it came out okay. I was happy with it.
Sentinel 2

Gaming-wise I played and completed a beautiful puzzle-platformer called 1000 Amps. I then started Tiny Troopers, which I'm still playing off and on.

I've preordered Depeche Mode's forthcoming album 'Delta Machine', and also 'English Electric'. by OMD. And while I was on iTunes I bought a couple of live EPs by Elbow.

Me and Heather have watched all of season 6 of Red Dwarf now. It was much better than I remembered, which is down to my low expectations. Mind you, the last episode of S6 was properly crap. 


Here are the pics I wanted to post yesterday. The first is Pip in her long-haired ragamuffin state...
130305Pip before...

...and here she is all sleek and trimmed and ready-for-spring.
130305Pip after

The postie brought me the David Mitchell book today, 'Black Swan Green'. According to the author's bio, he'd won or had been nominated for just about every major literary prize by the age of thirty. Such talent. I hate him already.

Finished Edna and Harvey: Harvey's New eyes. A point and click adventure, and I finished it! With 100% achievements, no less. I usually suck at adventure games on account of my lack of a logical brain, so this must have been an easy game. There's no other explanation for it.

Watched a classic Red Dwarf episode. 5:06, Back to Reality. A fantastic story with some great lines. Danny John Jules' gurning as Duane Dibbley always cracks me up. Small wonder it's a fan favourite. And yet Heather thought it was pretty crap. Strange child.