A Learning Curve

I learnt several things yesterday. The first of those things is that I’m a terrible Mistweaver Monk.


I hadn’t really played her since the pre-patch which brought so many changes but either I haven’t properly looked through her spell book and am missing half a dozen useful spells or I’m doing something very wrong. I got my artifact and am only level 99 but it felt way harder than doing any of the three Priest artifact weapon chains.


Secondly I discovered there is a real dust problem in Dalaran. Having acquired the weapon, I felt my Monk needed a change of hair colour to match her outfit so wandered off to the Barbers. Having accidentally clicked on the rug, I came out to discover an infestation of bunnies running around.

Then when sitting down to take a screenshot of said bunny, I noticed a floating Pepe hanging around next to me.

All in all, a rather lucky day made perhaps even more important by the fact that it was World Suicide Prevention Day yesterday and that it’s nothing short of a miracle that I’m still here to write about the joy of something so insignificant as finding a little orange bird in a video game. I know I’ve talked about depression before but one thing I haven’t admitted is that my postnatal depression almost killed me. I remember those feelings of emptiness, of believing that my son wasn’t real and the despair… I could have drowned whole continents. Yet whenever I tried to seek help I was dismissed, patronised or told that there was something fundamentally wrong with me because of the “unnatural” feelings I had. In the end, I reached a point where I felt not only was my life pointless but that I was already blighting my son’s. Killing myself before I did him any more harm seemed the only logical solution.

My life was saved by the kindness of a passing stranger* and so I’d like to pass that on, please if you’re feeling depressed and that you don’t see any point going on, talk to someone. The one lesson I’ve learned in all this madness is that the way we see ourselves is very often warped and twisted like a fairground mirror and that to get a true picture, we need to see ourselves through someone else’s eyes.

*(and also the amazing support of Mr Harpy who never gave up on me)

Recovery takes many forms

So whilst I haven’t been playing WoW recently (and have decided that I need to wait until I hand in my final piece of coursework at the end of May before re-subscribing), I have been doing other things.

One of the few pieces of useful advice I was given after I was diagnosed with Post-natal Depression was to try and get out as much as possible. So we have been all over the place exploring castles,


Edzell Castle in the sunshine

looking at neolithic ruins and geocaching. Essentially trying to spend as much time out in the fresh air as humanly possible and I  must admit it’s working. My son adores being in the woods and on beaches and I look surprisingly suntanned.

I have been dabbling with some games though as it still rains quite a lot. Dragon Age Inquisition is still on-going although I’m struggling to get back into the story. There is no denying how beautiful it is but I’m just finding something lacking, perhaps because they’ve got rid of all the Mage Towers.

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I dived back into Hearthstone too and finally no doubt years after everyone else I beat a certain spider.

Hearthstone Screenshot 05-08-16 21.37.36


Then because we visited Doune Castle recently which doubles for Castle Leoch in Outlander, I’ve started reading the book with a view to possibly watching the series once I’m finished. Given the “mind fog” I’ve been in since my son’s arrival I hadn’t actually heard of either the book or the TV series until I got talking to the lovely Historic Scotland ladies as well as some American tourists who didn’t recognize the Catullus quote on the “Outlander” merchandise and thought that “basia” must mean “love”.

I briefly contemplated pretending to being much smarter than I actually am before admitting that I first came across “da mi basia mille, deinde centum” whilst reading Jilly Cooper of all people. Fair enough I was only 10 or so at the time but still.

My final piece of coursework for the University course I’m doing is handed in 10 days time and then the plan is to resubscribe and attack the Toybox list with a view to completing as much as possible before Legion goes live. I think we are going to pre-order so I’ll also be figuring out what character I want to use the boost on as well as deciding if I’m going with my Priest or not.

For the TL;DR, I’ve recovered about as much as I’m going to (still slightly mad) and I’m back, excited about Demons, changes to the PvP system and nursing a desire to slaughter things.

When Worlds collide

I paid a visit to the Kirkwall Chantry recently…somewhat disappointed by the lack of men in armour wielding broadswords but it was a really beautiful building.


It did however get me thinking about different game worlds and how they reflect on the world around us. There are some similarities between Kirkwall the real place and Kirkwall the virtual one, both are located by the sea and both have religious buildings as a focal point but there is a distinct lack of chains (at least in the areas we visited) in the Scottish version.

Looking at art work like this, (one of the loading screens from Dragon Age II).


It doesn’t require a huge imaginative leap to contemplate that perhaps the designers also had the “real” Kirkwall in mind with it’s Cathedral named for  Magnus Erlendsson (St Magnus) when they decided to call the “City of Chains”, Kirkwall.

In fact, the Orkney Islands seem full of virtual gaming references as seen in the picture below:


Here we can clearly see a Gnome leaving a Dwarfish dwelling (or not).

I know it’s been a long time since I posted last and if I’m being honest, I have no idea if I’m back. It turns out that I was “not prepared” for Post-natal depression, in fact I imagine it was the real world equivalent of fighting C’thun, Ragnaros versions 1 & 2, the Lich King and 4 Horde raids all at the same time whilst in the Suppression rooms from Blackwing Lair.

In an ideal world, I would like to start posting at least once a fortnight (folder full of drafts, half written stories and I’m still finishing the last Dragon Age) and intend on returning to the game at some point prior to the next expansion going live. In the real world…who knows.

Home Coming

Apparently it’s over six months since I last logged into WoW ….


Although it seems on my first admittedly brief glance around that little has changed. I haven’t been keeping up with the news so am hopefully setting off on a WoW voyage of discovery this weekend and surprisingly enough I’m looking forwards to it.

As for what’s been keeping me distracted, well…. I can’t believe he’s almost five months old. We were experimenting with selfies this morning and it seems he rather likes them.


When Real Life bursts your Bubble

Apparently it’s almost three months since I posted anything here and I suspect a similar duration since I last logged into Warcraft. I haven’t been cheating on WoW with any exciting new games, in fact I haven’t even finished Dragon Age Inquisition yet… I got as far as seducing Cullen and then stopped. As it happened Real Life caught up with me fast:


Our son made his arrival into this world in a rather unplanned and exceptionally messy way, fingers crossed his bedroom as he grows will not reflect this. I will spare you all the gory details however there were parts when Mr Harpy thought he would be leaving the Maternity Hospital to organize two funerals. On the plus side, hospital food was marginally better than I had been led to believe and nitrous oxide is a wonderful thing or at least it was until I starting seeing snakes wrapped around my thighs (the hospital assures me they don’t have bright green anacondas working in the labour ward although…).

At the moment I’m learning to adjust and deal with the fact that everything I own is covered in milk but my intention is to re-discover my WoW subscription sometime soon, ideally when I’ve had a bit more sleep and see how things have changed since I last logged in.



I’ll be back.

Books for Halloween – My Favourite Spooky Reads

As autumn bleeds into winter, my thoughts tend to turn to dark and scary things. By five at night, we’re already starting to lose the light and by six it’s pitch black outside with the street lamps throwing pockets of orange light into the shadows. Inside where it’s warm and light, I like to sit by the window and read about ghosts, vampires and the monsters under the bed (although given all the other stuff under ours, it would be a very small monster, pocket sized in fact). I don’t really have Halloween movies, although I do tend to like watching Sleepy Hollow and the Nightmare Before Christmas around now, instead I have Halloween books that I pull out and scare myself with.

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So in no particular order here they are:

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

Fair enough, this isn’t particularly scary but feeds into my love of vampires and witches. Plus humour helps dilute the fear a touch.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

I first read this as a young girl, maybe early teens but I suspect a bit earlier and was terrified by it. One particular part left a lasting impression on my mind and it’s now one of my favourite books for snuggling up under a duvet and reading, assuming of course I’m not alone in the house.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

I read this for the first time during High School French. My teacher at the time apparently had better things to do than teach us and so I and the girl I shared a desk with spent our fourth year reading our way through Stephen King. Reading under the bright classroom lights was one thing, but walking the mile and a half home in the dusk another altogether. Instead of taking my usual short cut through the park and along the river bank, I almost ran the long way under street lights just in case.

IT by Stephen King

I still make sure my hair is safely tucked out of the way before I lean over any plug hole thanks to this book. The idea of anything being able to see our darkest fears and use them against is terrifying enough but somehow King manages to make it extra frightening right from the first few pages.

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

Whilst I like the all novels in this particular series, the first one stands out perhaps because it was the first one I read, anyway you can’t go wrong with a spin on the Dracula story.

The October Country by Rad Bradbury

Nothing beats creepy short stories for those quick bursts of heart pumping fear between chores.

From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury

In all Bradbury’s stories about the Elliott family, I can’t shake that feeling of familiarity. No, my nearest and dearest aren’t mummies, ghosts or vampires but they are eccentric, strange and oddly fond of once living animals now stuffed and inanimate. Somehow the family dynamic is similar although my Grandmama doesn’t just come out at Halloween.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

This is the book I always imagined reading to my children on Halloween, when their sated with sweets and the candle burns low in the Jack O’Lantern.

The Mistletoe Bride by Kate Mosse

The first story in this collection reminds me so much of the ghost stories of my childhood, whispered undercover of darkness by my Grandmother and my Great Grandmother.


There are others, books which somehow catch the edge of what frightens me, the darkness inside not out, that send a tingle of fear tripping down my spine but these are my favourites. That said, I’m always on the look out for more books that make me curl up by the light so any suggestions of spooky things to read would be appreciated.

Fandom Friday – Gateway Fandoms That Made Me Who I Am Today

Flicking through Twitter yesterday I noticed that Neri of Mama Needs Mana had tweeted what looked like an interesting link to a blog I’d never heard of before. Needless to say I went to have a look and immediately loved the idea proposed by the Nerdy Girlie. Lists are one of my great passions, it’s not that I’m particularly organised but something about an ordered and bullet pointed collection of words which just sings to me. Plus I found the idea of Gateway Fandoms intriguing because I never identified as Geek during my childhood / teenage years despite having some truly geeky interests. So to start at the beginning:

1. 2000AD

My Father thought that Televisions make you fat and lazy, thus we didn’t have one (although the second I left for University… what did they buy?). Instead I played outside, I built things (mostly forts), I sewed and I read anything I could get my hands on. I quickly decided that Mandy and other “girl” comics were too juvenile for me and aged around 8 or 9 I spread my comic reading wings and fell head over heels in love with 2000AD. Luckily other than making pronouncements like TVs are bad, my parents paid very little attention to my choice in reading matter because reading = good regardless of subject or quality. It wasn’t just Judge Dread or Judge Anderson although I had definite crushes on both at various points but the art work and the whole feel of the comic. It inspired me in the art work I submitted at school and pushed me think outside the bubble in which I existed. I still have most of my comics from that period because I just can’t bring myself to throw them out and of course I’ve watched both Judge Dread movies although I was disappointed about the portrayal of Anderson in the last one.

2. Star Trek

As my father was in the Air Force, the only colour which mattered was Blue and I think the world which Roddenberry envisioned had many similarities to the one I thought I grew up in. A world where women could be pilots and where you came from was less important in the grand scheme when compared with the choices you made. Then when I discovered the harsh reality of the world around us, Star Trek made even more sense to me. I grew up in Germany and given that we lived in a German town not on an Air Force base had a variety of friends. These were other Service kids, local Germans and the children of Turkish workers. Now unsupervised we all got on fine but add in parents and things got messy fast. Most of the German parents didn’t want their children hanging out with the Turkish children and most of the Turkish parents didn’t want their children hanging out with anyone who wasn’t Turkish. To say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement and of course had us children wishing for a world where being human was enough, thus we searched for sanctuary amongst the many worlds of Star Trek and got good at deceiving authority, after all.. the needs of the many (us) outweighed the needs of the few (the parents who had issues).

3. Gothic Literature


Dracula, Carmilla, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Wuthering Heights.. These novels heavily influenced my early forays into dating as well as fascinating me on much deeper level. Was Stoker’s attempt at creating a monster who feeds of  the life blood of his peasants before retreating to the safety of his castle a dig at the Angl0-Irish landowners for example or is it just what it’s presented as.. either way it’s a brilliant read and has spawned so many wonderful things. At Halloween, I still like to bring my battered old copy of Dracula out and read it even though I know exactly what’s going to happen. I think those early reading experiences also had a marked impression on what I like to read today, as I’m drawn to books like Kim Harrison’s The Hollows collection and well anything with ghosts or vampires in it. I think I owe my fascination with the Day of the Dead and with Halloween to my love of the Gothic too. Without these stories I wouldn’t have carted a five foot wooden skeleton across the Atlantic nor have almost as many Halloween decorations as I do Christmas ones.

4. Pre-Raphaelite  Art

In many ways this is similar I suppose to my love of the Gothic but those paintings get inside your head and make you see the world differently, at least they did for me. They made me realise that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and that all too often we don’t see what’s right in front of us. The four core and founding beliefs behind the movement should inspire us still today:

  1. to have genuine ideas to express
  2. to study nature attentively, so as to know how to express them
  3. to sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote
  4. most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues

and they certainly played a role in my development.

5. World of Warcraft

Without WoW this blog wouldn’t exist and I wouldn’t have encountered so many interesting and passionate people. The game has pushed me creatively and mentally in so many ways, from sewing my own Tree of Life and managing to sustain writing which despite my love of it has proved remarkably hard given my mental state over the last few years.