Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia Game Review (Age 7+) Sent for review

Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia is a video game based on the popular TV series Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia. It was released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows on September 25th and we were sent a code to review on the Playstation. 

It's been a little while since I spent any quality time on a game, but sadly I've had my right hand in a brace since June, so I still can't actually join in this time. My 12 year old has given me his opinion for this review... 
Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia Game pack shot in all available formats

The game is a familiar side-scrolling platformer, and you take the role of  Jim Lake Jr. (in two-player co-operative mode you can also play as Claire Nuñez). The aim of the game is to collect dirty socks and coins, fighting any enemies you meet on the way. Well, okay, the aim of the game is to prevent evil troll Porgon causing a Time-pocalypse.... 

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 19th / 20th October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 19th / 20th October 2020.

The UK added 21,331 cases today and now has reported a total of 762,542 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 260,338 tests yesterday. 

6,431 people were in hospital, with 629 using a ventilator, on Sunday 18th October. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 241 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 43,967 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

According to ONS figures, up until Friday 8th October, 58,164 people had COVID-19 written on their death certificate. 

Cases / Losses of life (going by death certificate, 2 weeks in arrears):
England 647,025 / 50,309
Northern Ireland 28,953 / 913
Scotland 49,164 / 4,301
Wales 37,400 / 2,641

Rep. Of Ireland 52,256 (+1,263) cases and 1,865 (+13) losses of life. 

There have now been a total of 40,874,258 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,126,263. Already 30,481,449 people have recovered.


Wear a face covering wash hands make space

“You cannot, in an epidemic, just take your own risk. Unfortunately, you’re taking a risk on behalf of everybody else.”
Chief Medical Officer of England, Professor Chris Whitty. 

“We can look to happier days, but these are going to be some tough months ahead."
Former head of the US FDA, Dr Scott Gottlieb. 

The UK had a coronavirus briefing with Boris Haircut, Jonathan Van-Tam, (Deputy Chief Medical Officer) and Stephen Powis (NHS England).
Greater Manchester was given until noon today to come to agreement over Tier 3 Restrictions, and the amount of money that would be given to support people unable to work, or the Government said they'd step in. They did not manage it by noon. Nor by 2pm.
"At 2pm, the Government walked away from negotiations"
Andy Burnham, Manchester Mayor (he had asked for £65m).
The press conference started with latest data on case rates per 100,000 population by local authority across England. It's grim.
Estimates of new infections by region are rising in all age groups except the young people, which are levelling off. It's obviously the older age groups who are at greater risk of succumbing to COVID, and these people do need protecting. Sadly though, hospital admissions show that they are rising rapidly among people around 75+.
They did show graphs for Greater Manchester specifically, and it was very black.
Boris said our measures aren't in vain, we have brought the infection rate down below it's natural level, to around 1.3 or 1.5 (erm....whoop?) instead of 3 or 4. (This does slow spread, but it's still spread...)

Greater Manchester will move to Tier 3 VERY HIGH ALERT AT MIDNIGHT THURSDAY.
- Pubs and bars will close unless serving main meals
- No household mixing indoors or out in most settings
- Travel into or out of the area is advised against.
- The Rule Of 6 must be adhered to.
- Additionally to base Tier 3 restrictions -  casinos, bingo halls, betting shops, adult gaming centres and soft play must also close.
He talks about the Job Support Scheme and Universal Credit giving the lowest paid up to 80% of their regular wage (what about people on zero hour or 10 hour contracts?...). Greater Manchester will receive £22m in support (this is far less per head than has been given to Lancashire and Liverpool, which is what they are all arguing about). 

Public asked if the rules can be changed so that they can visit care homes. Boris burbled and then Jonathan Van Tam was overly-sincere. The answer is that it endangers everyone in the care home. It's not wise now.
Press asked why we don't have a national 'firebreak' lockdown. Jon and Steve both said it wasn't fair to do that nationally. Greater Manchester has more COVID patients than the entire South West of the country.
Press asked what difference arguing for 10 days will have made to Greater Manchester (well, the pubs in Bolton managed to open for a whole fortnight). Jon spoke about cases per 100k in age 60+, which have just about doubled. Steve talked about hospitalisations - which follow around 12+ days after people catch the virus. Greater Manchester had 330 patients with COVID 2 weeks ago, and 620 yesterday. At it's peak, on 18th April, Greater Manchester had 1,277 patients with COVID, so in 2 weeks we could be back at that level (and it's already too late to change that).
Jonathan seemed so demoralised. He needs a hug. "We can't afford just to let our elderly die. And we can't afford to let our NHS be completely consumed by COVID, so they can't do their usual work." 

"We are running now with the brakes partially on, and the R is 1.3-1.5 according to the latest estimates, so we can't take the brake off on this, and we may have to push on it a little bit harder."
Jonathan Van-Halen-Morrison. 

Press asked about the £22m being given to Manchester - he said this is half of what Liverpool has been offered, and not the £60m Boris was rumoured to have offered last night. 'So will local leaders be penalised i they aren't compliant?' Underneath that floppy exterior Boris is a hard-hearted soul. He clearly has ice inside. He didn't give a real answer. My guess is yes.
Press asked about contact tracing. All the lolz... *insert non-answers and misplaced credit here*

Myface by Kevin Landt, Young Adult Fiction Book Review (sent for review)

 Myface is a new release from Kevin Landt, and I've been sent a copy for review. This is very modern young adult fiction, which blurs the lines between social media fantasy, and reality, so much so that you don't really know what's real and what isn't until a good way through the book. 

Myface starts with a murder, and then follows twisting and turning paths which all intersect at various points in the book. It has a great cast of people who all have the same thing in common - they care desperately about what other people think of them. Far too much really...

Myface by Kevin Landt book cover with woman's face reflected below. She wears lots of make up, appears emotional

The main characters include Norman, a 22 year old ex-child star and 24 hour a day live streamer. Max, who spends his life watching other people live their lives. Amir, the theatre director, and his financer and wife, Jada. We have Sebastian, obsessed with someone he can never have, and his wife, Liz, who dreams of acting stardom. Finally we have the seemingly perfect, sultry and illusive Angela Fox. 

Sunday, 18 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News weekend update 17th / 18th October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News weekend update 17th / 18th October 2020.

The UK added 16,982 cases today and now has reported a total of 722,409 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 305,315 tests on Friday (obviously they're proud of that, they've not updated it).

Hospital figures have also not been updated: 5,608 people were in hospital on Thursday 15th, with 592 using a ventilator on Friday 16th October. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 67 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 43,646 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 49,962 (+1,283) cases and 1,852 (+3) losses of life.

There have now been a total of 40,149,458 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,116,907. Already 30,017,848 people have recovered. Passing 40m cases is a grim milestone, but passing 30m recovered far less so. 

Japanese COVID advice from March 2020 1

"We do need stronger restrictions if we want the number of infections to go down," says Prof Steven Riley, Professor of Infectious Disease Dynamics, Imperial College London, on the Channel 4 Lockdown Debate about 10 minutes ago. 

The English and Welsh COVID App., and most of the others, work by pinging a location every few minutes. If you pass by someone who later tests positive,  you might have 1 ping in common. If you spend 20 minutes sitting beside them,  you should get at least 2. When it finds 2 together, the app. triggers and you get a notification to self-isolate.
With the English and Welsh app. it seems to also be sending a flash alert after 1 ping, just to make you more 'alert'. If you get this, it flashes up, but when you try to find out more or do anything, it's gone. It's confusing a lot of you. This is  not a notification to isolate, you just had a close call. 

The row between Greater Manchester and the UK Government continues. After Boris gave a thinly-veiled attack implying Andy Burnham was putting lives at risk, Andy Burnham's comeback was to point out that Sir Patrick Vallance has now joined Jonathan Van Tam, Dr Jenny Harries and Chris Whitty in saying that the baseline Tier 3 measures aren't enough to bring down levels of COVID. There really does seem to be no positive evidence and no point. 

Friday, 16 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 16th October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 16th October 2020.

The UK added 15,650 cases today and now has reported a total of 689,257 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 304,315 tests yesterday. 

5,311 people were in hospital on Wednesday 14th (up from 3,660 a week earlier), with 580 using a ventilator yesterday, 15th October (up from 436 a week earlier). 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 136 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 43,429 officially reported losses of life in all settings. (57,690 people have had COVID written on their death certificate.) 

England 584,843 / 38,524
Northern Ireland 25,177 / 608
Scotland 45,232 / 2,594
Wales 34,005 / 1,703

Rep. Of Ireland 47,427 (+998) cases and 1,841 (+3) losses of life.  

There have now been a total of 39,416,753 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,106,120. Already 29,510,661 people have recovered.

160420 Banksy painted his bathroom with rats

"The new restrictions we have seen brought in this week have made little practical difference to restrictions faced by most people. Cases will continue to rise in the majority of areas.
Waiting to discover the impact of the new 2 Tier system, is allowing time for the virus to spread further."
independent SAGE advisory group. 

From 4am Sunday 18 October, people arriving in England from Italy, San Marino and Vatican City State will need to self-isolate, as they will be removed from the travel corridor list this week .
The Greek island of Crete will be added to list for England.

The University & College Union have done a tally, and this morning said that over 20,000 university students have now tested positive in the UK.
That is an awful lot of worried parents, and food parcels...

At midnight tonight Wales close the border to anyone from Northern Ireland, England's Tier 2 and 3 areas, and the central belt of Scotland. You are not welcome, you disease ridden Angles. Fod wedi mynd.
Obviously this is bad news for anyone who was hoping to take a break in Wales, and I do sympathise with you, but at the same time you can hardly blame them. Movement restrictions are one of the very best ways to contain and suppress any virus.
Welsh Ministers are also reported to be considering a circuit-break lockdown. 

Thursday, 15 October 2020

#TBCSmiles October 2020 74 Months...

 It's the 15th and the grinniest day of the month - and I think we all need that at the moment. 

How is your mental health? How are you coping? Take a bit of time to think about yourself and do a wellness check. Are you sleeping well, eating well? When was the last time you treated yourself to a few hours doing something just for you? 

It's easy to become distracted by the fact there's a pandemic, and a lot of things have had to be put on hold, but life hasn't stopped. You still need to cook, clean study, work, and likewise you still need time off. If you haven't built it into your week, try to do so - you still earned it. 

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who joined in with #TBCSmiles this month over on Instagram. It was a busy one with the return to organised chaos for parents of schoolchildren, and if you are anything like us, you've also experienced the joys of 2 week's self-isolation (and 7 days trying to get at least 1 of us tested - thankfully that situation has improved a bit). It's definitely not 'normal', it is a new and temporary normal, but we are still making those smiles. 

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 14 /15 October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 14 /15 October 2020.

The UK added 18,980 cases today and now has reported a total of 673,622 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 295,690 tests yesterday. 

4,941 people were in hospital on Tuesday 13th, with 563 using a ventilator yesterday, 14th October. 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 138 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 43,293 officially reported losses of life in all settings.

Rep. Of Ireland 45,243 cases and 1,835 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 38,947,653 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,099,641. Already 29,239,129 people have recovered.

be kind to people with covid drawing from WHO

"It is wrong to place some of the poorest parts of England in a punishing lockdown without proper support."
Andy Burnham, on behalf of the Greater Manchester local leaders. 

On Tuesday teatime, after the publication of the official SAGE meeting recommendations from 24th September, the leader of the UK political opposition, Kier Starmer MP, publicly called for more strident action against the virus immediately.
"We are at a decisive moment in the fight against the coronavirus. That’s why I'm calling for a circuit break in England - to protect the NHS, fix testing and get control of the virus."
He'd like a 3 week lockdown break around half term, and to be honest I'm still stunned that Boris didn't announce one at the press conference on Monday. Kier believes the government have lost control of the pandemic. I don't think that's entirely true, I think this is their plan, and wanted to allow younger, less vulnerable, people to be exposed purposefully in order to achieve a level of herd immunity by transmission. At some point they WILL lose control, because freewheeling down a hill with no brakes rarely ends well. It's a game with stakes that are too high for me to be comfortable. I'd like to stop playing. 

Ad | What Do You Need To Know Before Buying A Smart TV?

What DO you need to know before buying a smart TV? I needed a guide before I bought mine, and I think most of us do, as technology is constantly evolving and capability is expanding. This is a guest promotional post by Maria Lopez - who knows far more than I do... 

Since technology is always evolving, most electronics come with the word “smart” attached to them. What exactly makes a device smart? Some gadgets can work on their own to execute commands without the use of a human. Not only that, but they can connect to the internet and create the Internet of Things (IOT). Additionally, some gadgets can have context-awareness, data storage, portability, and flawless user-interaction. 

Simpsons Smart TV all on sofa

Does this mean that your smart TV is going to have all of these features? Quite possibly! It honestly all depends on the make and model of your smart television. However, I am going to take the time to debunk some common myths about smart televisions. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Hedgeways - Eco-Friendly 2 Player Strategy Tile Game Review - Sent by Sprout & Gherkin

The people behind the gorgeous wooden tile game Sproutword are back with another equally beautiful eco-friendly wooden game. Hedgeways is for 2 players, although we've also played a light-hearted game with 4, and recommended for anyone aged around 3-99+ (best for anyone aged 6+ in my opinion). 

The first thing you'll notice is the box. Hedgeways is packaged in an incredibly clever all wooden box, and it instantly calls out to be wrapped in colourful tissue paper and given to someone you really like as a gift. 

Hedgeways strategy game for 2 players of any age. Sent for review.

The box is all-in-one, and you just flip the lid to open it. The front, back and hinge are created from  a single piece of wood, carefully cut and shaped, and it's really very clever, and quite special. 

Hedgeways wooden ecofriendly game locally sourced wooden box

Inside the box nothing is wasted and the entire thing is plastic-free. The instructions are very simple and printed on recycled card, and there is a cloth drawstring bag holding all of the wooden tiles. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 12 /13 October 2020.

 COVID-19 Coronavirus UK and World News update 12 /13 October 2020.

The UK added 17,234 cases today and now has reported a total of 634,920 positive cases of COVID-19. We completed 219.074 tests yesterday. 

4,367 people were in hospital on Sunday 11th (up from 2,833 the same time last week), with 507 using a ventilator yesterday, 12th October (up from 393 the same time last week). 

In the 24 hours up until 5pm yesterday, we officially reported the loss of another 143 people who have tested positive to COVID-19 within 28 days. We now very sadly have a total of 43,018 officially reported losses of life in all settings. 

Up until Friday 2nd October, 57,690 people in the UK have had COVID given as a cause on their death certificate. 

Rep. Of Ireland 43,351 cases and 1,827 losses of life. (Not yet reported today.) 

There have now been a total of 38,243,553 reported cases worldwide. The number of people who have lost their lives worldwide to COVID-19 is 1,088,221. Already 28,739,127 people have recovered.

UK Alert Levels MEDIUM October 2020

Remember the English Government's announcements yesterday only apply from midnight tonight, so if you are in the North West or North East, no garden visits until afterwards. 

The Nightingale Hospitals in Manchester, Harrogate and Sunderland have been put on standby, as local hospitals are starting to feel the weight of COVID cases. 

UK student exams next Summer will be delayed by 2-3 weeks to allow for extra 'catch up' tuition time. They will start on 7th June rather than mid-May. 

I was a grumpy yesterday because we've had garden visits banned since July, and now they're allowed, when my area has over 40 times as much COVID as it did in July. I agree with Chris Whitty, the measures announced yesterday by Boris do nothing to actually decrease transmission of COVID, they can only slow the rise slightly. I've always been annoyed that the English government have decided to attempt 'controlled herd immunity by transmission' among the less vulnerable population. They are playing with fire at our risk, and potentially our expense, and some areas are about to get burnt. Well done to the Mayor of Liverpool for daring to stand alone and impose Very High Tier restrictions.