Mark Tales of Parenting, Tales of School Leave a Comment

The Circle of Life

The boys have reached the age where they’re learning about the circle of life.

It’s a wonderful period of discovery. At school they have a mini-beast hotel and a butterfly garden. An allotment and a pond. They’ve witnessed tadpoles become frogs, and fed lambs on a farm.

But it’s not so much a circle as an arc. A joyous and magical arc, but it still needs to complete its circumference, and for reasons of my own doing, that part has inadvertently fallen on me. While their teachers are sharing in the wonderment of life, I’m the one whom taketh it away. Like the grim reaper of entomology.

You see, I’m not very good at keeping things alive. Not the kids, obviously.… Read the full post

Mark Tales of Parenting, Tales of School 2 Comments

School Sports Day

I love a good sports day, although I prefer to call it by its proper name, Sky Sports Super Sunday.

School Sports Day on the other hand …

I try to remain enthusiastic. No really, I do. But there comes a point, normally around heat 32 of the sack race, where it starts to wane.

It’s not helped by the egg and spoon race. I wouldn’t trust either of my two to carry an egg from the kitchen to the dining room, carefully and using both hands. Yet I have to sit and applaud heat after heat of three year-olds with the hand-eye coordination of a drunken baboon stumble fifty metres across a field riddled with molehills, all the while trying to balance it on a spoon?… Read the full post

HBReturnity74 Tales of Parenting 6 Comments

The Look

It’s been five years in the making but I’ve nailed it. The holy grail of parenting. Finally, I’ve mastered ‘the look’.

I’ve been close for a while. As a grumpy, middle-aged cynic I’ve had the raised brow of indignation for longer than I can remember; that wind changed a long time ago.

For years, my world-weary posture has meant peering over the top of my glasses was never a problem either, I just needed to drop my chin by an inch.

But I could never hold a straight face when telling them off. It was the final hurdle at which I always fell. The Beechers Brook to my blind, three-legged donkey; which if you’ve seen me running for a bus isn’t that far-fetched an analogy.… Read the full post

Mark Nintendo, Reviews Leave a Comment

Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush

kirby boxIf Nintendo were a family, Kirby would be the second-cousin who only turns up to the big occasions, but is the one you really want to be sat next to.

Whilst Mario knuckles down to study in the pursuit of perfection, Kirby will have taken another gap year, probably studying shamanism in Mongolia or the folk traditions of Azerbaijan.

And this is what I love about Kirby. By lurking in the shadows of Mario the developers are able to take more risks and experiment like few others can.

In Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush they’ve gone back to the craft box, but instead of pulling out the knitting needles of Epic Yarn have instead reached for the clay.

It’s a shame you spend so much time staring at the gamepad as it’s only when you look up to the TV screen that you appreciate just how beautiful and unique the graphics really are in all their malleable glory.… Read the full post

Mark Nintendo, Reviews Leave a Comment

Mario Party 10 – Review

Mario Party 10Ain’t no party like a Mario 10 Party!

OK, so there’s Mario Party 9, and the eight prior to that, but how often do I get the chance to reference S Club 7?

The fact I did suggests I’m probably not the target demographic for this game, and as such should probably pass this on to the kids to review …

“It’s great … can I have a biscuit!”

OK, so that doesn’t really constitute a review therefore I’d better add some detail.

Mario Party 10 is a dice-rolling board game that offers three modes of play.

The traditional Mario Party mode, and by far the best, takes a similar form to that of its predecessor, with up to four players sharing a vehicle to travel around one of five courses, the winner being the person with the most stars at the end.… Read the full post

Mark Rants 17 Comments

Post Election Blues

I’ve got post election blues. It’s been four days since the election and I still feel numb. To liken it to mourning is maybe overstating it a little, but the five stages of dealing with grief still resonate.

Stage One – Denial

Denial came and went as quickly as Sunderland counts its votes. Exit polls had been wrong before. They’d clearly not counted the votes from my Twitter timeline as they were 90% anti-austerity. Until the BBC canteen served up a sautéed hat to Paddy Ashdown or a deep fried kilt to Alistair Campbell there was still hope …

Stage Two – Anger

… or not …

By the time I was snoring on the sofa in a pool of my own dribble it had already turned to anger.… Read the full post