Exhilarating speeds, wild Pikachu and Beastie Boys in space

The other day children were released from school for their summer holidays, which is terrifying.

It also meant a fayre had opened local to me, an opportunity to venture outside with my little brother and check it out. Partnered with my desire to have a stroll and avoid any sarcastic “lazy” comments from my dad, I also gave in to the unbearably growing virus that is Pokemon GO. Despite wanting to avoid being caught up in the wave of Pokemon nostalgia trips, I couldn’t help myself but bug myself to see if anything rare and exciting appeared in my close, or preferably my house so I wouldn’t have to move. It turns out the closest Pokemon spawn down the road from me, and I faced even more disappointment bumping into endless Pidgeys and Rattatas. A sad day for a sad boy.

So I took up augmented reality Pokemon catching, and I wasn’t disappointed. Instead, I find myself surprisingly addicted. This addiction is probably fed by the shared satisfaction of finding new Pokemon with my younger brother and close friend Matt. Even the common, skip-able Pokemon from the video games were exciting to find; giving me a new Pokedex entry, bountiful experience and new evolution possibilities. After giving up on the latest installments of the DS games I really enjoyed going back to basics and first generation Pocket Monsters.

All the Pokestops!

It felt clean and lighthearted, albeit full of glitches and crashes which arguably hinder the overall performance of the game at the current time. Following Comic-Con in San Diego, news is that patches are inbound to fix these issues. Going back to what I said about nostalgia trips, it’s funny to see that the army of young adults (mostly my generation) who are raving about this new game are the same crowd who denied any attachment to the series in their school years. The irony is pure.

A few Pidgeys later and we made it to Tredegar Park’s fayre. It was fairly small, and Β£1 entry was a bit annoying but the rides here were definitely not lackluster. After a round of walking past the rides and sussing the scene out we decided that we’d actually go on one of the rides. With little encouragement the three of us squished ourselves into ‘The Sizzler’. Doesn’t that sound scary and fast? Aren’t we brave? Truth is, it was the one ride between being an actual scary ride and one of those slow and pathetically depressing kiddy rides. I feel like I’m playing it down, but the three of us still thoroughly enjoyed the fast thrills. To me, this ride gave me the same feelings that I used to get when I went really high on a swing. I guess this entire post is now about nostalgic feelings – lame.

 

After building up some confidence from the first ride we braved another one. This was one of those rides where you sit in a pod that spins around continuously as the floor moves around you simultaneously. Turns out that’s a bad idea after eating a chicken burger and drinking some Dr Pepper. This ride was extremely fast, sickening and dizzy as hell. I also got whiplash which left my neck aching for three days, so that’s a plus.

On an completely unrelated note, I watched Star Trek: Beyond the other day. Solid 5/10. Slow, cheesy and just not that impressive. Sorry Trekky or Trekkie fans, whatever you call yourselves, it’s not that amazing. My little brother fell asleep in the cinema, I mean it isn’t difficult for that to happen, but still! The Beastie Boys’ Sabotage also played a bigger role than most of the characters in the film, which I found hilarious.

At least I had an excuse to eat some fruit gums.

Alexander Jones

P.S. I walked 18km that day catching computer-generated monsters, I am not ashamed.

 

 

Tuning in, switching off…

What on Earth has been going on recently in the news?

After the seemingly “seismic” impact of Brexit, resignation of several political head figures including our beloved David Cameron, and the rise of Theresa May (not ‘Teresa’ the model like many blind keyboard warriors mashed into Twitter) – we are now haunted by several violent and horrifying events from across the World.

These events have definitely shaken me up recently. Everything seems to be going full throttle simultaneously into a brick wall. Freshly graduated from Cardiff University, I’m a naive, youthful academic individual looking to build a future for myself within this space and time. I’m only met with the darkness of harsh realities. Terrorist attacks from around the World, as well as military uprisings in areas not so far away from home – it’s hard to look past this barrier of hate. What can I do but mourn for the dozens and hundreds and thousands massacred pointlessly by sick individuals for twisted ideologies.

Bastille Attack
Bodies littered the streets of Nice following the Bastille Day massacre.

It can be pleasant bathing in the ignorance of celebrating a (well-deserved) graduation when all these horrific actions are taking place around us. I only heard about the Bastille Day terror attack just before I went to sleep, late into the night. It shocked me. As more detailed reports and disturbingly graphic videos made their way onto the web in the morning I felt sick. Sick, sad and angry. How could anyone do such a thing? More importantly why would you do that? Innocent and happy families celebrating a national holiday mowed down by some lone wolf, for nothing. A pointless slaughter of people of all ages, from across the World with varying beliefs. There was no message behind this massacre, we’ve witnessed terror attacks that attack just for the sake of murdering people. How faltered and deviant do you have to be to become someone who’d do that? Or, more importantly, how can we stop something like this happening before it sets in motion? Who knows? I don’t, that’s for sure.

Turkey Coup
Turkish civilians stood up to the attempted military coup – many lost their lives in the process.

Following this dreadfully sad moment in French history we are faced with a military uprising or “coup” in Turkey. Borders are locked down, deadly jets fly low above the city of Istanbul, soldiers seize local news networks and other establishments. At this point I began losing hope. In the back of my mind I keep thinking: when will it be us? When will the United Kingdom become the victim of the next terrorist attack? When will innocent British lives be brought into danger? It’s a scary thought, but one I try not to linger on for too long. 84 lives were taken during Bastille Day, more than a hundred were taken in Turkey a few days after. It’s times like these that make you think the whole planet has gone mad.

Beneath all this madness I believe that there is hope for the French, and the Turkish. People unify over events that are shared among them – after every terrorist attack there’s a vigil; and we are reminded that despite these small smudges of hate, we all share hope for a greater good.

 

Alexander Jones

 

The Curious Clawed Warrior

AKA the gerbil.

I recently acquired two little furry friends to join the already extensive list of warm-blooded creatures roaming the house. Two Mongolian gerbils named Han and Chewie (of course). I’ve researched into small animals as pets for a while as I wanted one in university, but never got any. So when I came back from finishing my final year I just so happened to stop at Pets at Home and that’s when it happened. My mum wasn’t too keen, but my dad didn’t seem to mind as long as I cared for them myself – duh, that’s the point!


So now I have two little gerbils in a pretty decent starter gerbilirium. However, I already have plans for a larger home in the future. That’s part of the fun with small pets; you can create so many playgrounds with so little. They love to burrow and create tunnels and systems of travel on their own. It’s fascinating to watch and requires very little effort from you, the owner.

My gerbils are about 3 months old now and are getting fairly used to me – they realise I am the Treat Master – which is enjoyable. Naturally they flee because they’re prey animals, but they’ve grown used to my presence and come up to me instead of hiding. It’s awesome seeing some real progress in training and taming your new animals.

I’m curious to see what these little fellas get up to in their time with and without me – the environment they build changes every time I come back home, it’s crazy! Gerbils are amazing pets and easy to look after, so say hello to Han and Chewie!

 

Alexander Jones