Posted on January 23, 2015
This is a bit of a departure for me, reviewing a game. For one, I hardly play games. I definitely would not consider myself to be a gamer. But, my closest friends have always played games, and I’ve always enjoyed watching them. Over Christmas I had a week at home on my own and felt a bit bored, so I downloaded a game called A Golden Wake, which was recommended to me by a friend. I loved it, and played through it very quickly. Sort of through that, I came across a Let’s Play video by someone else that I know, where she had played a game called The Lost Door. It had a pixel art style which reminded me a bit of A Golden Wake, so I checked it out and… well, I was hooked.
So, here I am, a self-confessed non-gamer, obsessed. Here is what I love about it, in an incredibly awkward list format:
- The music. Many of you will know that I am an absolute fiend for classical music, especially pieces that are dark and theatrical. The soundtrack for this game is exactly that. It’s beautiful and intricate in a way I would expect from a film, rather than an indie game. I’ve downloaded the soundtracks to listen to in my spare time (Victorian-style gloom is my new aesthetic) and they even hold up on their own.
- The story. For me, since I usually watch games, rather than play them, they have to have a good story. I cannot play a first person shooter because I will get bored, and also I lack the hand-eye coordination to do anything other than run out of bounds and be shot. Any game that gets me has to have a good story, and I’m practically talking novel quality, here. I know, I sound like a bit of a pretentious princess, but The Last Door managed to pull it off. I was completely engaged the whole time, and I kept moving on to the next chapter until I finished.
- The art. Before you look at the pixel art and think “meh, pixel art” let me just tell you that pixel art is the best. Sure, it might not look like actual human people are playing the characters when they are, in fact, merely CGI, but it takes a lot of work to pull off the intricacies of pixel art. And The Last Door does an amazing job of bringing actual depth to an art style that can seem quite 2-dimensional.
- It made me jump! Okay, yes, I am a naturally jumpy person. My mortal enemy is Bonfire Night and I’ve fallen off my bed upon hearing the door buzzer on more than one occasion. This makes me someone who doesn’t really like jump scares… but I did in the case of The Last Door. Basically this game opened up my entire worldview, changing my opinion on everything and everyone around me. Okay, not quite, but I loved that the game kept me on my toes and was so immersive!
- It is an indie game backed by the community. I am a web designer, and I studied all kinds of digital media before becoming one. Many of my friends are also in digital media and it is such a great, creative community of which I am proud to be a part. I really love to support independent artists, developers and creators, in general. So, even though you can play all the chapters (apart from the latest) for free, I gladly parted with some cash money to ensure the development of something I love so much can move forward!
Basically, if I love it, I’m sure you will love it, and I highly encourage giving it a play through. My time to complete the four chapters of season one clocked in at three hours. So you really have nothing to lose!
Posted on January 06, 2015
Okay, so this is a little bit late, but the year is young so what’s a few days between friends, you know?
What can I say about 2014? It was okay. It was a good, solid year. Nothing amazing happened, but it wasn’t the worst. I was able to go home to visit not once, but twice. I visited new places in the UK such as Oxford and Cornwall, and I saw some castles. I went to Stonehenge for Solstice overnight. I had plenty of fun times with friends. I got back into the swing of things with this blog, and picked up a camera again for the first time since I finished studying. Plus, I got to wrap up the year with a trip to the beautiful city of Rome.
Mainly I suppose it was a year of “settling in.” It was my first calendar year in the UK, as well as my first calendar year of following my celiac friendly diet. I feel “at home” in Brighton, now. I have my routine and my friends and my favourite places to eat and drink, and whatnot. The change to a gluten free diet has me feeling healthier in ways that are difficult to describe if you were unfamiliar with how I felt before I had to change. It was a lot of effort at first but, again, I now find myself “settled.” A closer look at my eating habits, combined with walking everywhere in the city, has me feeling a lot fitter than I have in a few years too.
But, enough waffle. Here is a (previously un-posted) photo for each month of the year!
For the last few years, I haven’t really made resolutions. This time, though, I have managed to jot down a few ideas for goals for the year:
- Save money so I can take a trip to Vancouver in August (and hopefully tack on a little side journey to California while I’m at it).
- I am going to be cooking more meals at home, which will 1) be enjoyable because I love cooking, 2) save money because it’s much cheaper than my habit of grabbing something on my way home from work and, 3) be healthier than the alternative.
- Think about quality over quantity when it comes to clothes. I buy so much clothing on a whim from high street shops without really trying things on or really considering them. Ideally, I would like to buy fewer items that are of a higher quality, fit well, and that I really love.
- Stop buying cosmetics. Let’s be real. I own so much makeup and I give a lot of it away to Clementine. This year, I am going to use what I have and stay away from wandering around the drugstore throwing things into my basket. This kind of fits in with the above about clothing– I want to own products that I love and that I want to use over and over. Also in here I am just going to throw in the vague notion of sticking to my skincare routine so that hopefully I need even less makeup (because I will be naturally beautiful, obvz).
- There are other things too, but I’m already bored of writing this list, and you’re probably bored of reading it.
Anyway, how was your year? Did you make any resolutions? How has the first few days of 2015 been treating you?
When this whole Celiac/Coeliac (to Canadian or British spell things, that is the question) thing came about one of the things that made me most sad was the food opportunities abroad that were eliminated. When I imagined my life as a world traveller, it involved trying a lot of different kinds of food, following a “I’ll try anything once!” mentality. But the reality of my life now involves being a lot more careful.
Luckily, Celiac is becoming more common (er, well, I guess that isn’t lucky), and Italy seems to be embracing the change… but they’re not quite there yet. First, for the foodies, I’ll show you what I did eat. Then, I will leave you with some tips for being a gluten free tourist in Rome!
In Termini station there is a small grocery store, and I thought, at the very least, I could get some meat, veg and rice here. But I was surprised to find they also had plenty of gluten free ready-made food, such as muffins and breads. The store-brand (Conad) gluten free chocolate chip muffins were actually the best muffins I have had since going gluten free.
For Christmas dinner, I was unsure of whether or not a restaurant could cater for me, so I went the self-catered method. Well, kind of. At a local grocery store I was able to pick up an artichoke risotto and a bit of chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto and spinach. It was delicious and very filling!
After my visit to Vatican City, I hit up the nearby La Soffitta Renovatio, where I ordered a gluten free pizza with mozzarella and spicy salami.
It was bigger than my face. By a considerable amount. And I ate every bite of it. The crust on this bad boy was so soft and delicious. I am a fan of most pizza bases I have encountered (in the UK Pizza Hut, Dominos and Pizza Express all have nice options), but this is the first one I’ve had that I imagined non-gluten free people might also enjoy eating. It was so much like the “real deal” that I was afraid it might be. However, these guys have you covered: gluten free dishes are all marked with a small flag, and there are signs all over the walls explicitly stating to not accept a gluten free dish if it is not marked with a flag. Perfect.
Of course, I couldn’t leave without having some pasta. After my second visit to the Pantheon, I settled down at Ristorante-Caffè da Claudia, which is just across the piazza, giving gorgeous views of the massive building while enjoying a meal. Obviously, this makes it pretty expensive, but the food was also good, so who is complaining? I went for the gluten free pasta in their Alfredo sauce (Alfredo is not a “thing” in the UK, so I was pretty excited). It was very yummy, and came in some kind of… baked cheese bowl. I must make a baked cheese bowl myself immediately.
Still, my food experience was not perfect. So here are a few of the tips I promised:
- Find accommodation with a kitchen. Rome is a lot like the UK and Canada, where there is quite a bit of gluten free pizza and pasta available. It seems to be the staple gluten free food. However, it’s definitely not on every corner. And you always run the risk of cross contamination. For this reason I found my accommodation, which included a kitchen, to be invaluable. When I couldn’t find anything to eat at a restaurant, I could at least feel secure in the fact that I could pop into a grocery store and make something on my own.The place that I ended up staying at was the lovely Clover guestrooms, which is part of The Beehive. It was a quick walk from Termini (making it on a prime stop on the Metro, which made it easy to access in terms of meal times). The kitchen was well equipped with many pots, pans and dishes. A grocery store in Termini was well stocked with a variety of gluten free staples.Plus it was super cute! And it had an old-fashioned elevator/lift that you needed to manually open and close the doors to operate!
- Have your phone translator on hand. While food seems to be labelled similarly to in the UK (with allergens marked in BOLD) and some things can be easy to guess (“farina” = “flour”), a few things can trip you up, like the various different names for wheat. Look for “senza glutine.” You may be surprised what doesn’t contain gluten however. I’m not used to being able to have desserts from a bakery, for example, but I did find a chocolate torte made with rice flour and casually labelled “senza glutine” (unlike in the UK where gluten free things often scream it at you in order to justify a higher price tag!).
- Check with Italy’s Celiac association. They have recommended restaurants that have been vetted by them to ensure that cross contamination is kept at a minimum. It has to be said that I don’t 100% trust the restaurants in the busy tourist areas that seem to have thrown up a hand-drawn sign that says “gluten free pasta” to ensure they’re not cooking pasta in the same pots as the gluten variety, or serving gluten free pasta with a gluten containing sauce. You can never be too careful!
- Bring something to eat to the airport. I left the centre of Rome around 5pm and arrived at the airport to find my flight had been delayed. Famished from a day of exploring, I went in search of food… No luck. Even the salads came inside a tortilla bowl. I ended up having 4 Kinder Surprises for dinner. Not my finest moment. By the time I arrived back in the UK it was near midnight (UK time, so 1am Rome time) and the shops were closed. That’s a long time to not eat! Of course, it is always a good idea to carry a snack in case of emergency, but a snack isn’t a substitution for a nice, comforting meal when you’re stuck at an airport!