All the Fun of Medieval Times Without the Death and Disease- My Day at the Abbey Medieval Festival

If you’re anything like me, you probably get bored of your seemingly boring, normal life, right? And sometimes you wish you could live in a much more exciting period of history- like medieval times, or the Renaissance.  After all, it was a world of sword fights and knights and kings and queens!  But it was also a world where everyone died by age forty and most spent their lives knee deep in cow dung.  But I have found a way to experience all the joy of yesteryear without all the death and cow dung!  And that way is the Abbey Medieval Festival.

The Abbey Medieval Festival is a long running medieval festival at Caboolture, Queensland, Australia and is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.  I had high expectations when I arrived on a sunny but cold Saturday, but those expectations were still surpassed.  I attended with the companionship of my partner Noah.  Upon arrival we were greeted by a gypsy dance group jingling away.  Their vibrant dancing distracted us from the ye olde mud road that led into the festival.  Very authentic.

I know this sounds cliche and cheesy, but once you step past the gates of the festival, it really is like stepping back in time.  Laid before you in a wide clearing among the trees are dozens of brightly coloured tents and arenas, and even a trebuchet or two.  Rather than other festivals that merely present a glimpse into medieval life, Abbey goes the whole way and transforms the field into what actually feels like a real medieval camp, complete with not one but TWO medieval inns.  While there were casual festival goers like me in normal clothing, the large majority of people at the festival were gowned in period attire- ladies in beautiful dresses and headscarves, men in fur lined cloaks and armour.  Even the sounds and smells around you take you back to ye old times- from the moment I entered the festival I could hear the sound of a lute nearby as well as the clanking of armour.  Even the air smelt how I would expect a medieval festival to smell- smoke, leather and oddly enough, cinnamon donuts.

Once I’d managed to take in my sudden transportation back in time, Noah and I made our way to the Castle Arena for the grand opening parade.  The festival’s attention to historical immersion shone again as the participants in the festival were introduced as if they were attending a real tourney.


After the grand parade, we had ten or so minutes before the tourney.  I followed my nose back to the scent of those cinnamon donuts and found them being hawked by a man wheeling a cart of donuts shouting “hot cinnamon donuts!”.  I purchased three cinnamon and jam donuts and they are by far the best jam donuts I have ever had.

Next up was the “Tourney of Two Houses” presented by the Company of the Phoenix. Remember the tourney from Game of Thrones?  It’s just like that except you get to experience it in real life.  Everyone cast aside their knowledge that it was a re-enactment. We cheered on for the fight, gasped when a knight suffered a blow in combat and shouted words of encouragement to our favourite knights.  For that brief period of time, I really did feel like I was there in a real tourney.  The modern world seems far away at the sight and sound of clashing swords.


Next on our program took us a tad further in time to the Renaissance.  One of my favourite local re-enactment groups is Prima Spada who teach and perform historical Renaissance fencing.  Where as medieval knights are clad head to toe in cumbersome armour and swing their swords wildly, Renaissance swordsmen put more focus on fashionable combat.  With capes and rapiers, Renaissance fencing shows that the Renaissance was a less barbaric time, although just as violent.  Combat was like a dance with impressive footwork.  Prima Spada exemplified a number of popular Renaissance weapon combinations- sword, rapier, sword and buckler, sword and knife, two handed sword, and my personal favourite, sword and cape.  While the medieval tourney combat gets your heart racing for its sheer violence, Renaissance combat is more of a pleasure to watch.


Sound your trumpets, as it was now time for the joust.  Rather than a re-enactment, the Abbey jousting is a real competition that attracts jousters from all over Australia and the world.  I officially have to say that jousting should be a mainstream sport again and all quarrels should be settled with a joust.  Each jouster had their own look, style and colours, and even their own personality in the way they rode around the field and presented themselves. The joust really gets you to get behind your favourite jouster, and announcer made sure that everyone knew how to give an almighty HUZZAH.   Little did I know that there is more to jousting than just two people riding at each other with pointy sticks.  There’s scoring involved, making it all the more competitive.  Seeing the ends of the jousting sticks break off on the other’s shield and flying into the air is one of the most exhilarating things ever.  Unfortunately we had to abandon the joust early because the stands lacked shade and it had gotten very hot.


Deciding it was time for a ye old meal and beverage, Noah and I made our way to the Stag Inn.  If you ever wanted that authentic medieval inn experience, the Stag Inn delivers.  It was hard choice between the steak pie or the venison stew, but I opted for a good old fashioned pie.  Noah had the goat pie, which I avoided since I am still unsure about goat meat.  With hay underfoot and a haybale as our seat, we enjoyed our very delicious peasant pies and washed it down with apple cider.  I nearly opted for one of the many ales and meads the inn sold, but I was feeling a little sunstruck and alcohol probably wasn’t the best idea.  The air was filled with the smell of cooking meat and smoke from a nearby campfire.  And like every good inn, it was filled to the brim with boisterous, loud men talking and laughing heartily.  The only thing that could have completed the experience was good tavern fight.


Briefly after lunch we decided to quickly glimpse the end of what could be my favourite sport- Turkish Oil Wrestling.  I don’t have much to say about this save that it involved two sweaty, oiled up buff Turkish men rolling around on the ground attempting to slide their hand into the other’s pants.  No really, look it up.  That’s what they do.  Easily the most homoerotic sport in the world, and very *cough* interesting to watch.


After catching the end of another tournament, we decided to take the time to explore the dozens of encampments before us.  Many sold goods you would never find anywhere else- swords, shields, bows and arrows, leatherworks and jewelry, as well as a plethora of other medieval wares.  I was very close to buying an authentic drinking horn.  Noah was just as close to buying a sword.  Like most medieval wares, we probably would never use either, but they make great conversation pieces.  Strolling through the encampments is one of the best things about these festivals, because you can really take your time to enjoy the atmosphere.  The best part is that the people in the encampments are acting out real medieval activities.   I spent a good five minutes just watching a man string a bow.  From fletching arrows, turning a spit or helping another put their armour on, everyone went about their activities like it really was a cool July afternoon in the 1400s.


There were a few more displays and tournaments that afternoon, but we decided to call it a day at this point.  I don’t think I could’ve handled much more medieval immersion without spontaneously starting to speak in old English.  After a quick flit around the stalls to spend the last of my money, we finally bade farewell to the Abbey Medieval Festival and returned back to the modern day.  For one amazing day, I got to leave this sad, modern world behind in exchange for the glories of the past.  For one day, I could pretend I did live in a world of chivalry and crusades, of knights and ladies and of swords and horses.  And for that, I thank the Abbey Medieval Festival.

Interested in next year’s festival?  Check out the link below

Abbey Medieval Festival






My Melbourne Adventure Day 4 and 5: One fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

*A thousand apologies for the delay of the final part of my Melbourne story.  University exams really suck the life and time out of you*

I could not believe it when I had come to my final day in Melbourne.  Like all holidays, it had gone too quickly.  On my agenda for my final twenty four hours in the lovely city was the Sealife Aquarium.  Some might say I could see an aquarium anywhere, but I love sea life, and the aquarium was right across from where I was staying, so how could I not have a look?

It was a very dreary day that morning- it seemed we were finally seeing that renowned Melbourne weather. It was the first day I awoke to the sound of rain pelting against the room’s large glass window. But I was actually sort of glad to see the rainy weather. I’m a lover of rain, and seeing the wet weather actually made Melbourne feel somewhat more Melbourney. So we put on our coats and braved into the rain and across the bridge.

The Sealife Aquarium looks small from the outside, or it least it did from our window.  But it was very Tardis-like in how big it seemed on the inside.  It was divided up into numerous sections, each featuring a different type of sea life.  The first section featured a large, open top tank filled with rays and sharks, as well as some small fish. The rays and sharks were actually very cute and very friendly.  There was space where you could crawl underneath the tank to get a better look, which was probably for kids, but I attempted to crawl in there anyway.  I was successful, though with some difficulty.   The next section was about crabs and crustaceans. For me, the highlights were the coconut crabs that looked like a low level enemy from a science fiction game.


After the crabs was a section for reef fish- my favorite type of fish.  It was like a scene from Finding Nemo- pufferfish, clown fish, angel fish and much more.  This section was by far the most attractive since coral and reef fish display a myriad of colours.

The next area was the shark tank. And no, it had nothing to do with entrepreneurs.  This tank had a tunnel running through it which let you be surrounded by the sharks, as well as the many rays and fish that lived in harmony with them.  I’ve always liked rays because of their little smiley faces.


The following part of the aquarium moved away from ocean life to focus on inland freshwater animals.  Of course, the main feature was their resident crocodile.  I have seen crocodiles both in captivity and in the wild, but I have never seen a crocodile as big as the one there.  It was so large and so still that I didn’t think it was real at first.  But a twitch of its tail and slight movement of its eyes made me realise it was in fact alive.  It was more reminiscent of a dinosaur or a Godzilla monster than a crocodile.  The rest of the section seemed much less exciting compared to the crocodile, but there were some cute frogs and lizards, and a rather derpy but lovable big freshwater fish.


There were some more small sea life exhibits featuring corals, seahorses and squids, but my favourite exhibit featured at the end- penguins.  Penguins are one of my favourite animals because there is something incredibly adorable about them.  So it was great to watch them waddle around and just be generally cute.  The small penguins were the cutest, as they tended to walk around in one route continuously, and they were the most inquisitive,  It was also fascinating to to see how fast they were in water compared to their slow, cute little waddle on land.


That marked the end of our aquarium trip.  Since the weather had cleared up while we were inside, we decided to make the most of our last day in this wonderful city with one last tram trip.  Though first I had to stop at Batman park to get a photo of the sign.  After all, it was BATMAN park.  Our first stop on the tram trip then was the gardens in which the Royal Exhibition building stood.  It was a grand building that looks like it was plucked straight out of Europe.  It was easy to imagine Ezio clambering over such a building.  Not to mention it was situated at the end of a beautiful tree lined path in the verdant green botanic gardens.  Its a shame that its intricate fountain turned off just as we arrived,  While we couldn’t go inside the building, I was content with admiring its exterior.  Our exploration probably would have continued, but my mum and I were both tired and hungry, and tensions were rising.  We decided it was best to go back to the hotel, get some lunch and spend the last hours of our trip in air-conditioned comfort.  And it was indeed a comfortable afternoon and evening. As the sun set on our final day, we watched those dancing flames one last time and reflected on what a wonderful time we had.


Little can be said for our last morning, asides from that we packed our bags with heavy hearts.  For both mum and I, this had been our first real travel experience.  And in our short week, we had been captivated by the feeling travelling gave us.  At least the weather had turned even worse again, so leaving was at least a little easier.  And so we flew home in somewhat turbulent skies, with fond memories of our first travel adventure.

Also for anyone interested, I have provided a link the Melbourne SeaLife website:
Melbourne SeaLife


Totally Factual and Not at All Biased Game Reviews: Spyro the Dragon

When I saw that Crash Bandicoot was getting a sleek remaster, I was very excited.  Not because I was excited for the game per say, but because I was excited for the fact that game companies are looking at the possibility of polishing up old games.  And I wondered if a game series very close to my heart would get the same treatment.

That game series being Spyro the Dragon.

Spyro the Dragon on PS1 was the first game I ever played.  And since then, I have played every Spyro game in existence, save for a few bad mobile games.  Some of them are timeless classics, others…not so much.  So I thought I’d take the time to examine every Spyro game I can get my hands on, and present a review of them.

So without further ado, I present

Spyro the Dragon (1998)

Image result for spyro the dragon

Since I was only one year old at the time of the game’s release, I can’t tell you what the initial reception was for this game.  But I can guess that Sony wanted to jump on the 3D platforming collect-a-thon bandwagon made popular by Nintendo games like Banjo-Kazooie.  So Insomniac made just that.  3D hub worlds that led to other levels?  Check.  A cute but competent main character?  Check.  More things to collect than you could wave a stick at?  Check.  Spyro the Dragon was the PS1’s answer to the genre.  So now I’ll examine a few aspects of the game, and rate out of 10.


Image result for spyro the dragon thank you for releasing me

I don’t even have to summarise the story for this review, since it is so simple.  Short story even shorter- there’s this baddie called Gnasty Gnorc who’s been exiled to a literal garbage island and then one day the dragons are throwing some shade about him.  This pisses him off to no end, and he decides to freeze all of the dragons in crystal with magic.  Of course, Spyro is saved from this fate from his diminutive size, and is hence bestowed with the responsibility to save the day.

Yes, it’s a very simple story, but these games are not known for their plot.  I’m not going to have the story’s bare bones-ness affect my score, but I will raise a few questions I always had as a kid regarding it.  Is Spyro the only juvenile dragon in the world since he was the only one who the spell missed?  Where did the dragons you freed go, and why didn’t they help you more than giving a few cryptic lines of aide?  Why are there no girl dragons?  Surely Spyro must have come from somewhere….

But none the less, I have to give the story a 2/10.  It’s not a 1 because I suppose there technically is a story.  This won’t affect my overall score though since this is not a game designed to revolve around story.


Image result for spyro the dragon ps1

Now this is where Spyro shines.  The gameplay mechanics are incredibly simple, but still somehow satisfying.  Spyro has two attacks- a flame and a charge attack.  Some enemies can only be killed by a certain attack, and it’s pretty easy to identify them.  Asides from his attacks, Spyro has a jump and a glide which are your most important tools in platforming.  There’s also a roll to the left and right, but to be honest I only ever used it once or twice, so it’s pretty pointless.

The goal of Spyro is to free the dragons and collect the treasure.  It sounds simple enough, but you often find yourself scratching your head in dismay as you reach the end of a level only find you’re missing one dragon and four gems.  That is where Spyro’s fun comes from.  Combat is incredibly easy, but the challenge of this game comes from combing every nook and cranny of each level to find all the gems.  Technically you can beat the game without finding everything, as to progress to the next hub-world you only have to meet a certain objective (free ten dragons, collect 16000 tressure etc etc).  But doing that means you finish the game very quickly, and you miss the charm of the game.  Collecting dragons, gems and the elusive dragon eggs is always rewarding, and only a few times did it ever feel meticulous or too much work.  It gets especially interesting when you have to do some pretty insanely tricking platforming and problem solving in order to reach those hard to get to collectables.  Any Spyro fan reading this now is probably already thinking about Tree Tops- a level that makes the player pull off an insane glide in order to reach all the collectables in the level.  Gliding is a lot of fun in Spyro, mostly because Spyro is very easy to control.  He is very responsive and the camera is amazingly good for a PS1 game.  You can move the camera from left the right, and you have a first person look around mode which is helping for seeking out those pesky hidden gems.  Despite the ease of the combat, the tricky hiding placing for the collectables add a layer of difficulty to Spyro that you don’t see in games these days.  The tight controls and camera make it fun to find them though.

Image result for spyro the dragon tree topsNever have I been so frustrated (in a good way) in a Spyro game…

I should also mention that there are bonus flying stages where you control Spyro in the air.  These involve completing a course in a time limit which involve flying through rings and flaming obstacles.  These flying stages can get pretty difficult, but they are incredibly fun and break up the pace a bit.  Spyro controls pretty well in the air, though perhaps not as well as he does on the ground.  The flying is still very fun though, and it’s in these stages you do truly feel like a dragon.

Image result for spyro the dragon flight level

The only complaints I have about the gameplay are that I wish there were just a few more collectibles to search for, and that Spyro had a few more abilities.  These are complaints that are addressed in the following games, however

As a collect-at-hon, I will give Spyro 7/10.  The collectibles are fun to search for and the controls are tight, but as I said, it may have needed a few extra features to get that really high score.

Graphics and Design

Image result for spyro the dragon ps1

Now, this is a PS1 game, so I have to appraise it in comparison to games of its era.  And I have to say, I believe Spyro is one of the best looking PS1 games out there.  Every single stage has its own design, look and feel and no two stages look the same.  The game has a sort of high-fantasy design to it- with towering castles, mountains and spires.  And for its era, everything looks amazing.  The backgrounds of each stage are these beautiful sky boxes that look like distant mountains, and the colour scheme is different on every stage.  These backgrounds are beautiful in themselves, and  the colour scheme they use even gives you a feel for the stage to come.  Spyro and the dragons themselves are actually really well modelled, and what I love the most about the dragons is that every realm’s (what they call each world) dragons have a different look and design, and it gives you the feeling that each realm is home to a different sort of dragon.  The enemies unfortunately don’t look as great, and their designs seem to look pretty similar after a while.  But there is enough variety that you won’t see the same enemy too often.  While pretty uninspiring in their design, there are a lot of types which keep things fresh.  But the level design and graphics in Spyro the Dragon still impress me to this day.  Few games have really made me go “wow this looks great for its generation” but this game certainly did.  I don’t technically have any experience in professionally judging game graphics, but from a purely aesthetic point of view, I rate this game solidly.

skies.pngAn example of some of the sky backgrounds from the game.  As you can see, all of them are vastly different and make some pretty sweet desktop backgrounds.

Judging the game in comparison to other games of its era, I give Spyro an 8/10.  While perhaps not ground breaking graphics, they are very nice to look at, and the level design is absolutely fantastic.

Parting thoughts

It is very possible that this review is somewhat tainted by fond nostalgia, but I have tried to remain as subjective as possible.  I will reiterate that this review is largely based on my own opinion and whether I liked the game or not.  Gamers who aren’t fond of the collect-a-thon genre will likely not enjoy Spyro.  But for fans who do love a good collect-a-thon and have not played Spyro, I could not recommend it enough.


Story: 2/10

Gameplay: 7/10

Graphics and Design: 8/10

Overall Score: 7.5/10

Final verdict: Thank you for releasing me (this game)

Image result for spyro the dragon ps1

Book Reviews by Someone not Qualified to Review Books- Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi

Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi (Indiana Jones: Prequels #1)Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi by Rob MacGregor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been a long standing fan of Indiana Jones, so I decided to start the book series. My expectations were not very high, since books based on movie franchises are never usually that good, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this book.

Peril at Delphi introduces us to a post-“Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” but pre-movie Indy. I was skeptical about whether the author would get the character right, but I think he definitely did. Indy is just starting out in the world of extreme archaeology, so he lacks a bit of the charm we see in the movies and he still seems to be finding his feet. I really liked this, since this is a prequel after all. Indy himself was well written, and everything he said and thought still felt in-line with the character.

Sadly, none of the other characters were as well thought out as Indy. None of them really stuck with me except Dorian. While I liked her character, her motivations and personality seemed all over the place. That being said, I was not expecting such an interesting female character from a book this old, and I much preferred a somewhat flawed female character in this compared to a Mary-Sue or trophy woman character that are so common in older novels.

The writing itself is nothing spectacular, but it is clear and direct which I think works well in such an action orientated book. The action scenes sometimes lacked a bit, but it didn’t ruin the book.

All in all, it does feel like an Indiana Jones adventure and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. However, I do feel that this book may not appeal to everyone- only Indiana Jones fans and history buffs will likely appreciate the history/mythology based story, since asides from that it doesn’t bring much new to the table. But if you are an Indy fan, or enjoy a good pulpy archaeology adventure, this this is a definite read.

View all my reviews

Wisdom from an anxiety riddled, coffee fuelled university student

Here I am, right now, back against a hard stone wall, holding a peanut butter sandwich close to my chest as I stare down the ibis who is slowly approaching in an attempt to steal my peanutty buttery goodness.  I don’t understand why it’s singling me out- I have by far the least impressive lunch of anyone around me.  He could go after the student with the Subway, or the sushi rolls, or the fancy Chinese curry, but no, he goes after me.

Just another hurdle in the life of university.

I am currently in my third and final year of my business degree at the Queensland University of Technology, and even though its my final year, i feel like it is the first year I’ve truly felt like a uni student.

But how does one “feel like a uni student?”

In my first year, uni felt like nothing more than advanced high school.  I didn’t understand the idea of “uni life” or “campus culture”

But now as I sit here on the veranda of the Old Government House (a once popular historical site now overrun by students), watching the throngs of hip young millennials go by (I too am a young millennial, but i am far from “hip”), I kind of understand these terms.  But I expect that everyone has a different idea of “uni life”.  But what does it mean to me?

To me, its an understanding and an acceptance that university is not a walk through the park.  Or it is a walk in the park, except the park is on fire and there’s a horde of zombies chasing you.  It’s getting up early and squeezing onto an overcrowded train.  Its walking across the bridge to the campus and gazing across at the city.  It’s turning up to your 9am lecture with a coffee in one hand and a weetbix breakfast biscuit in the other.  It’s losing your laptop to the precarious fold up chair tables when the hinges suddenly decide to stop working.  It’s staring at attractive students two rows down, and then looking away when they turn around.  It’s staring blankly at power point slides while the lecturer drones on, while you feel an odd combination of confusion, anxiety and occasionally, a glimmer of understanding that makes it worthwhile.  It’s making friends with people you would never expect to be friends with- from girls with perfect makeup and hair and rich boys with nice smelling cologne to scraggly bearded DOTA 2 players and kooky engineering students- I’ve befriended them all.  Why? Because we’re all in the same boat.  We’re from different walks of life, but uni doesn’t care about that- it’ll mess you up no matter what.

I may sound critical of university, but don’t get me wrong- its been some of the best years of my life.  Its the first time I’ve ever felt independent, and free to experience the world the way I choose.

So now I’ll open my textbook to chapter 3, chug my coffee and dread my tutorials.  And when I do, I’ll feel happy.  Because if there’s any way to describe uni:


your gonna suffer but your gonna be happy about it.gif



My Melbourne Adventure Day 3: Rolling on the River

The next day we got up early for a morning stroll along the Yarra.  Again, we had abnormal and seemingly unnatural good weather.  I was almost upset that I hadn’t gotten to wear my new coat yet, which I had specifically bought for the trip.  Being the third day of the trip, it was the first day that I felt settled in the city.  Days and two just fly by so fast, and there is so much to take in that you don’t really feel like you’re there yet.  But on day three I finally did.  I could finally start to enjoy the city for what it was now that I was not overwhelmed by new sights and sounds.  The plan for today was a river cruise along the Yarra, but it did not depart till 10:30, and we still had time to spare.  Realizing we had not yet seen one of Melbourne’s most defining locations- Federation Square, we set our course there immediately.  We crossed the river at the northern (I think?  I literally had no sense of direction in Melbourne so we very well may have been going in a completely different direction) end of Southbank over a very old and very beautiful bridge to the figurative heart of Melbourne.

The square is an interesting area.  It is where old and contemporary Melbourne seem to collide.  Old buildings and churches sit side by side with the modern artsy building.  The square also offered me a view of the facade of the historic Flinder’s Street Station.  While my mum enjoyed the square, she found it a little too busy for her liking.  I actually kind of liked the hubbub of the square- you could see there were so many people of different walks of life all hurrying through that square.  As I said before- it was like the heart of the city and its lifeblood, it’s people, was continuously flowing through it and being pumped out to rest of the living city.


After our foray to Federation Square, we headed back to meet our trusty river-going vessel.  The low floating boat was to take us on a scenic cruise up each reach of the river.  First, we headed upstream.  The leisurely pace was very relaxing, and we got some nice views of Melbourne’s botanic gardens, as well as the many sports stadiums in the city.  Yet on this part of the cruise we also saw grimy overpasses and muddy river banks- a reminder that even Melbourne did have a less aesthetically pleasing side, like all cities.

After seeing the upstream section of the Yarra, we turned around and headed back downstream.  After passing through Southbank again (which was fun to see from the water, especially with the dim winter sun and bright blue skies), we moved into the Harbour district (I think that is what it is called, note that it may have a different name).  This area was characterized by upper class expensive looking high rises and million dollar boats and yachts.  The homes along the water here gave a brief glimpse into the living conditions of the 1%.  Some of those boats alone probably costed twice as much as our house.  Eventually, this classy district gave way to the port.  Yachts and charter boats had been replaced by giant container ships and tugboats.  As someone who actually enjoys that “industrial port aesthetic”, I reveled in sight of huge silos and shipping crate loaders.  There’s just something very raw and productive about them.  At the end of the port is a huge bridge, which I have sadly forgotten the name of, but it was hard to miss as it was flanked by two monolithic support towers.  The bridge marked the end of the upstream journey, and we headed back through the docks and the rich people to Southbank.


For the first time since we had arrived, we had some real time to rest and relax in the comfort of our room.  After a nice nap we ventured out for a walk in the late afternoon, hoping to capitalize on the good weather.  We went to look at the Penny Woodside- a 19th century tall ship that was on display at the Naval Museum.  As a fan of pre-2oth century, it was cool to see the ship, which’s design incorporated the older style sailing masts and a somewhat more modern metal hull.  It was a lovely afternoon as the sun went down- the clear blue skies meant a bright, clear orange sunset.  As the sky faded cinematically from blue, to orange, to dusky purple and navy, and then finally to black, the lights of the city came to life, reflecting in the mirror like waters of the Yarra.  Every light and every building was reflected almost perfectly in the still black water.


That evening we decided to watch a movie in our room- James Bond Casino Royal.  I chose this film for obvious reasons- we were staying in a casino after all.  Melbourne also has a modern James Bond-esque sort of feel, with its shining skyline and upper class atmosphere.  It was easy to imagine a story of spies and espionage taking place in this modern city.  Trying to emulate bond, I had a few drinks that evening (shaken, not stirred) and found myself unfortunately awake sometime after midnight very unwell in the bathroom.  It seems long tiring days mixed with heavy alcohol do not mix.


Dungeons that Drag On #2: Failed Charisma Rolls

It was a beautiful day on the northward running road out of Neverwinter.  Despite the fact they were heading north to the cold ice fields, the midsummer temperature was warm and comforting. Aria wore her feathered bard’s hat to keep the sun out of her sensitive elf eyes, but often looked up to feel the soothing warmth of the mid-morning sun.  The road was oddly quiet for such a main path out of the city, and the group rode on in relatively peaceful silence along the glistening sea.  Moses and Ivan rode either side of Aria and remained quiet, but Aria could hear hushed whispering behind her between Swagstag and Malifica.  She didn’t trust either of them as far as she could throw them, even though she did figure she probably could throw Swagstag quite far.  Of course, she wasn’t one to talk.  Bards came in one of two varieties- either trustworthy, honest entertainers; or untrustworthy, cunning bastards.  Aria liked to think she sat somewhere in between, but of course the others would not know that.  She knew they were following her orders for the gold she provided rather than any sense of trust or commitment.  Suddenly Aria’s train of thought was abruptly derailed by a shout from the trees to their right.

“What was that?” Moses said, looking into the trees.  Aria held up her hand to motion her company to stop.  A few moments later, a scared looking man burst out of the forest.  He looked rather dishevelled and his eyes grew wide with fear when he sort the mismatched group mounted before him.  But his expression quickly turned from fear to relief.

“Oh thank the gods there is someone on this road!” he said, “You must help me!”

Aria looked down at the distraught man suspiciously.  Even if she did want to help him, which she didn’t, they did not have time.  They had to get to Lorkan as soon as possible if they had any chance of being successful in their heist.

“Help you with what?” Aria asked, making sure her tone did not convey any suggestion that she planned to help him.

“Pirates from the Sea of Swords have besieged my fishing village on the coast ahead and are wreaking havoc.  I see you are armed- please, you must help us!”

Aria glanced at her companions, trying to gauge their reactions.  She knew Moses would definitely want to help, and she knew that Malifica would probably join in with the pirates.  The thief and the ranger were harder to read.

“We don’t have much, but we can pay you what we have.”

The prospect of payment piqued Aria’s attention.

“Alright then.  I guess we can see what we can do.”

“Oh thank you kind traveller.  Follow me!”

The group moved their horses forward after the estranged man.  Swagstag rode up beside Aria,

“It could be a trap you know,” she said.  Despite her appearance, Swagstag was quite intelligent, especially when it came to street smarts.  She too knew the dangers of compassion.

“If it is, then I think we are well equipped enough to fight off a couple of fisherman.”

“But what if they’re not fisherman.”

“We’ll take our chances.  After all, he is offering payment.”

Swagstag smiled, “That he is.”

Like her, Swagstag appreciated the power of money.  Moses looked at them in disgust,

“Is that all you two think about?  Gold?”

“No, it’s not all I think about.  But it’s at least 45 percent,” Aria replied.

“Nope, gold is all I think about,” Swagstag said, “that, and how I’m going to earn it.”

“I would hardly call thieving ‘earning’, halfling,” Moses said righteously.  Swagstag grew angry,

“Thieves are just as important as any professional in the world.  We keep the economy from growing stagnant- steal from the rich to distribute to the poor and all that,” she said defiantly.

“But the money isn’t yours to take!” Moses replied, holding his ground.

“The way I see it, money belongs to those who are smart enough to acquire it- however that may be.  If you don’t look after your gold properly, then you deserve to have it stolen.”

Moses went to argue but Aria held up a hand,

“Enough, you two.  I don’t want us arguing over as something trivial as this.  Besides, we approach the village.”


As the panicked fisherman had said, they came up on a small village situated down at the bottom of the short cliff.  And as the man had said, Aria could see a number of rough looking individuals swaggering about in the small village square.

“I will wait here,” the man said, cowering behind a rock, “You go take care of those ruffians.”

Aria dismounted her horse, and the others followed suit.

“Listen, I’ll try and talk to them first and see if we can get through this without any bloodshed,” Aria said, purposely glancing at Malifica, “But keep your weapons ready.  It may come to blows.”

The group proceeded down the winding cliff path to the small village.  The small wooden huts were locked tight, and Aria could see the fearful faces of villagers glancing out of their windows at the pirates who had taken over their town.  The pirate’s ship was anchored a little ways from the shore, and Aria could see longboats taking loot out of the village to the ship.  The man whom Aria deduced as the captain due to his outlandish clothing style and hat, stood at the edge of the dock directing his men.  Two pirates flanking him noticed the group approach, and held out their swords threateningly.  The captain turned around to examine the newcomers.

“And what do we have ‘ere?” he asked, his accent rough and thick.  Aria stepped forward and bowed slightly to the man,

“Just a humble bard and her contingent passing through sir,” she said humbly, “I could not help but notice your presence in this town as I passed through.”

“And what is it to ya?  Are you going to tell us you don’t like us in this town?”

“Oh no, captain. In fact, I saw your men here and thought ‘those poor pirates are missing quite the opportunity by wasting time in such a small fry village like this’,”

The captain scratched his tattered beard, “And what do you mean by that?”

“Well, I have come from the north, and only a day ago I passed a pearl fishing village north of here.  As you probably realise, pearls fetch a much higher price than fish.  It’s a shame you focused your attention here rather than there,”

Ivan looked at Aria, “But Aria, there aren’t any…”

Aria stepped down on Ivan’s foot hard.  The elf held back a wince of pain and was thankfully smart enough to realise he should be quiet.

“Pearls, you say?”

“Aye captain.  Pearls.  And if I do say so myself, a pearling village smells awfully better than a fishing village.”

Aria could see the captain was deep in thought, considering Aria’s information.  He went to speak, but sudden there was a burst of flame from one of the nearby houses.  They all looked across and saw none other than their resident halfling thief, Swagstag, dragging a sack of gold out of the town hall.  Malifica was with her, flames spilling out of her clawed hands.

“What are you doing!” Aria hissed.  Swagstag looked to Malifica and then back to Aria,

“I was, uh, checking out the village while you were talking.  And there was safe in here with gold, so I got Malifica to blast it open.”

The captain drew his sword, “These scoundrels aren’t simple bards!  They’re thieves trying to rob us of our loot!  After them!”

“Wait wait wait, no…ah who am I kidding,” Aria said with a shrug.  She kneed the captain in the crotch, incapacitating him momentarily,

“Back to the horses!  I think we’ve overstayed our welcome!”

The others all nodded in agreement as a large group of pirates brandishing swords ran towards them.  They hurried back up the cliff, running as fast as they could.  Aria looked back and saw Swagstag was still dragging the sack of gold,

“Leave it!” she said, “It’s the gold or your life.  Pick one.”

Reluctantly, Swagstag dropped the sack and hurried after them as fast as her short legs could carry her.  They quickly made it back to the horses and were galloping back up along the cliff side moments later.  Once they were far enough away, Aria reined her horse and looked back at the village.

“I think we lost them,” Ivan said.  Aria glared at Swagstag and Malifica,

“If I ever catch you doing something like that again, you are out of the heist.”

“We just thought…”

“I’m not paying you to think I’m paying you to follow!”

The halfling and the tiefling looked away sheepishly.  With a grunt of frustration, Aria turned her horse back towards the path, hoping that they could make it to Lorkan without any more interruptions.

My Melbourne Adventure Day 2: You Know What they Say About Big Wheels…

The next day we woke up fairly early, though it was still later than we had anticipated.  I don’t know if it was just me, but the sun seemed to rise a lot later in Melbourne than it did in Brisbane.  It was nearly 7:30 and the sun still had not risen properly, compared to Brisbane where the sun always seems to be up ungodly early and lights up your room at 4:00am.  Today the plan was to try out the trams, visit the Docklands and explore the CBD.

After getting used to the late sunrise, we ventured outside. It was a rather grey morning, but the clouds were light and did not look like they promised rain, which was surprising really since everyone says Melbourne is notorious for rainy weather.  It was also nowhere near as cold as I had anticipated for mid-winter, and the cool temperature was actually quite pleasant under my jacket.  Last time I had been in Melbourne we’d nearly froze to death.  Gladdened by the tolerable weather, we crossed the Yarra and managed to get on one of the free city loop trams with only minimal confusion.  This was a pretty great way to see city as not only did it take us through Melbourne’s heart, but it also had a voice-over providing facts about the areas and buildings we passed.  The tram itself was a restored tram from the early 20th century, which gave it character and added to the historical atmosphere.  We passed many beautiful old style buildings on the trip, including historic churches, hotels and an opulent government building.  Every bit of Melbourne we say seemed to have its own history and story, and everything had so much character.  There was so much to take in that I found it hard to keep track of everything.  Everything in Melbourne just screamed “culture”, both old and new.


Our tram trip finished at the Docklands- a collection of shops and attractions near docks which gave the area its name.  It was oddly deserter though.  In fact, I think I only saw about ten other people in the whole area, which was saying a lot since it was quite a large precinct.  I figured that would be better for us, since there would be no crowds.  However I found the shops themselves somewhat disappointing as it was the usual stuff you’d find back in Brisbane.  I’ve never been one for shopping on holidays anyway, mostly due to the fact I can shop at home, and that I usually don’t have enough money (or suitcase space) to go nuts on holiday.

The highlight of the Docklands was undoubtedly the Melbourne Star, one of only four giant observation wheels in the world.  The massive structure is 120m tall and offered views of up to 40km away.  Despite the cloudy weather, I think we easily saw that far.  Our ride on the Star allowed us unrivaled views of Melbourne and its surrounds.  From the peak, we had unobstructed views of the city skyline and the Yarra flowing out through the port into Port Phillip Bay- a huge and almost entirely landlocked bay renowned for its fishing.  Even though the clouds had somewhat thickened, the experience was still spectacular.  You really got to see Melbourne as a whole and when you are up there locking across at the city, you almost feel as if it’s your city- like Batman standing atop a building in Gotham, gazing at his city below.


After some morning tea (and the best Chai latte I’ve ever had, courtesy of the Coffee Club), we decided to look into an activity suggested by a friend of mine- black light mini-golf.  This was basically an indoor mini-golf course in almost total darkness, save for some cool black lighting and glowing wall paint.  The effect was very cool, and each room had a theme like underwater, jungle and outback.  It was a fun experience, even though the place was kind of falling apart (I think I did actually break something loose, but let’s not mention that) and smelled kind of funny.


Our foray into the Docklands was now done, since we had seen everything likely worth seeing.  On the way back we stopped in at “the Minotaur”- a popular comic book shop in the CBD.  While the store certainly was all my wildest, nerdiest dreams come true, it was very expensive.  While the selection was amazing and I swear they probably had a Action Comics #1 in that massive collection, the high pricing meant I left with only one item- a plastic 30cm Winter Soldier figure for $30 (which I later found in Brisbane for $20).  But that aside, I do still love the atmosphere of an authentic comic book shop- something that is unfortunately dying out these days with the rise of digital comics.

We proceeded back to the hotel for a hearty dinner of 2 minute noodles which we purchased in a convenience store in the CBD.  I should mention that the CBD itself is actually rather unremarkable, mostly because it was depressingly similar to Brisbane’s.  Day two had come to a close, and we spent the evening with two minute noodles and an 80s music channel on TV as we watched the sun set and the lights of the city twinkle to life.

Day 3 is on the way!



My Melbourne Adventure- Day 1

Now I know that I said this blog is for my writing, and for the most part it is.  But in my very first post I did mention my love for travel.  As a way to practice writing (and make sure my blog isn’t all just ramblings) I have decided to share my thoughts on a trip to Melbourne, Victoria in Australia.  Now I’m not one of those “hipster travelers” who think the only way to enjoy a place is to stay in an AirBnb house and do all your adventuring yourself.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I like hotels, okay?  I like guided tours and cheesy souvenirs.  I want to stay somewhere where I have high speed internet and a pool.  While it’s fun to go off the beaten track, I prefer to stay on a road where I know where I’m going.

But without further ado, let me tell you of my first day in Melbourne.

Day 1- 22nd of July, 2016

Now I’m sure all of you well seasoned travelers are used to get up early for morning flights, but for a novice like me, even a 5:30am start seemed too much.  But after my sensing came online (thanks to our good friend coffee) the excitement really kicked in.  See, I don’t travel a lot for financial reasons, so when I do go somewhere new it is incredibly exciting.  This trip I was taking with my mum (who is the best mum ever) who is just as much as a travel nut as I am, but is also restrained by pesky money.

We were departing from Brisbane Airport- a small airport by comparison to most but one that held a place in my heart.  After all, BNE Airport was my launchpad to the entire world.  Though everyone could tell what travel novices we were after we struggled to figure out the baggage self check in (in our defense it was 6:00am and we hadn’t had breakfast).  After some much needed food, we headed to the Jetstar terminal just over an hour later.  Now, for most flying is nothing special- it’s a way to get from point A to point B.  But for some reason I love flying.  I’ve been on a couple of flights in my life, all domestic thought, but every time I am just so excited to get on that plane.  Perhaps it’s the speed and wonder of the planes, perhaps it’s the fact that they take me to new places.  What ever the reason is, I am always ecstatic when I board my flight.  I spent most of the two hour flight (short by a travelers’ standard) playing Shovel Knight on my 3DS.  It paid off, since I finally defeated Plague Knight, a boss that had been plaguing me for months.

As we began our descent into Melbourne, I noticed two things.  One- Victoria was covered by a thick layer of grey clouds and two- the land below was incredibly green.  My home state of Queesland is always brown, yellow and very dry, so it was nice to see a state that was so green and lush.  The city itself and its surrounding suburbs looked quite similar to Brisbane’s from the air, except perhaps a little bigger.


Finally, we landed and took our first steps into Melbourne.  Well, technically it was mum’s first steps into Melbourne, but I had been there once before with a school band tour, though I didn’t remember a lot.  Though I could remember glimpses of memories of the airport.  Somehow I still remembered where to go.  Once outside, I was surprised that the weather wasn’t too bad, since Melbourne is notorious for bad weather.  It was cloudy with patches of blue, and it was cool, but nowhere near as cold as Melbourne could be.  After a rather long wait for our airport transfers, we were off into the city.

I must mention that my home city, Brisbane, is a rather new city, whereas Melbourne is a very old one, at least by Australian standards.  So I was quite struck at how different Melbourne was to Brisbane.  You could see Melbourne’s historical side, characterized by old, Europeanesque buildings merged with it’s new, artistic side, characterized by sleek, modern buildings with artistic architecture.  Even the foliage was different, and many trees were bare for the winter, which is something you don’t see in my sub-tropical home city.

Excitement was high as the taxi brought us to our hotel- the Crown Promenade.  It was situated in the perfect spot- in the heart of Soutbank right over the Casino, and with an excellent view of the city.  It was by far the fanciest place I ever stayed at, which probably says a lot about my previous accommodations.  I mean, it even had a fancy pond and a water feature INSIDE the foyer itself.  How cool is that?  AND a man took our luggage to our room for us!  For those used to the high life, that probably is nothing, but to us it made us feel rather fancy.  Despite the upper classiness of the place, everyone was still very welcoming and friendly.

Our room was a pretty standard size, but very luxurious.  You should’ve seen the size of that shower!  The hotel’s class and proximity to the Casino gave it a sort of “James Bond” sort of feel, and it was easy to imagine this being the sort of place where international espionage took place in the Casino below.


After settling in, we decided to acquaint ourselves with the area.  A brief visit to the Casino introduced me to a whole new world of upper-class Capitalism.  But what was more impressive was Melbourne’s beautiful Southbank area.  From an incredible selection of dining (including the best Indian food I’ve ever had) to a scenic walking path along the Yarra river and the spectacular nightly fire show, it certainly blows Brisbane’s Southbank out of the water.  After an hour or two of exploration and the fire show, we called it a day, since there was much more to come and we needed plenty of energy to take it head on.



Day 2 coming soon (soon being when I get round to writing it)



Dungeons that Drag On #1: Shouldn’t We Have a Fighter?

The sun shone brightly overhead in the azure blue sky.  Lying on her back, Aria watched gulls squawking and circling above.  Around her she could hear the sounds of Neverwinter’s port- the splashing of waves lapping at the docks, the creaking of the ships’ sails and ropes and constant buzz of chatting sailors and merchants.  And for that one, beautiful moment as she laid upon the gently swaying deck of the ship, she felt peaceful.  But of course, that wouldn’t last.

“So, when are we leaving?” said the excitable halfling, Swagstag Memebarrel.  She was leaning over Aria, her boyish face only inches from her own.  Aria sighed,

“When Moses arrives with supplies from the market,” Aria said, exasperated, “I thought I already told you.”

“Well, yea you did but it’s so boring here,” Swagstag said, twirling one of her daggers in her small hand, “There’s no action.”

“We could go make some,” said the voice of Malifca Paladin-Bane.  She smiled slyly in a way that made Aria somewhat uncomfortable.  At least their other companion, Ivan Greenbean, the wood elf, still remained happily asleep on a pile of sacks under the mast and would not be, for the moment, causing trouble for her.

“No one is making any action.  I hired you all for a purpose- a purpose that you all promised you’d help me achieve,” Aria said, putting her hands on her hips.

“Yes, yes, we know all about your ‘purpose’,” said Malifica, strutting over to Aria.

“And we bloody well better get paid for it,” added Swagstag.  Aria sighed yet again.  What had seemed like a great plan at first was starting to look a little uncertain.  The premise was clear- Aria had heard that there was a ski resort somewhere up in the mountains guarded by goblins, and this resort was filled with gold.  This gold was promised to anyone who won their yearly snowmobile race.  Asides from that, she had very little information, be she would have it soon.  Her old partner and friend, Bowen Dilson, had information they would need to get this gold, but he was in Luskan, to the north.  With no intention of participating in such a race, Aria and Bowen decided a heist was in order- but they needed help. That’s where Aria’s band of misfits came in.  With rather limited funds, Aria did not have the freedom to be picky when hiring help, which left her with this undesirable group of adventurers.  A hyper-religious cleric, a feisty halfling thief, an intelligently challenged elf ranger and a borderline insane tiefling sorceress.  They weren’t Aria’s first choice, but they were the only choice she had.


“I come bearing great gifts!” exclaimed Moses as dragged a sack of supplies up the gangplank.  Aria helped the human cleric haul their supplies on board.

“There’s enough supplies to make it Luskan, easily, with plenty more for the trip into the mountains,” he said.

“Good, good,” Aria said, nodding, “Mind giving me the leftover gold?”

“Leftover?  Why, I spent it all!”

Aria’s eye twitched, “You what?!”

“The hard working merchants of this city often struggle to make ends meet, so I thought it charitable to not haggle and accept their high prices.”

Aria suppressed the urge to shout at the overly-kind cleric.  She took a deep breath.

“Alright.  Okay.  Just…let me do the shopping next time,” she said.  Aria was glad she organised the horses, otherwise their adventure would have already put her in debt.

“Now that we are all here, we can finally begin.”

The adventurers gathered around Aria,

“As you know, I have been informed of a rather valuable hoard of gold hidden away in the mountains to the north.  This gold is locked away in a vault beneath Globlin Slopes- a rather expensive goblin ski resort,” Aria explained.  Ivan raised his hand,

“What’s a ski resort?” he asked.

“It’s where people go stay on holidays where they strap two pieces of wood to their feet and slide down the slopes of the mountain.”

“You mean, they purposely slide down the mountain?” Ivan said, confused, “But why bother climbing all the way up if you’re just going back down…”

“Don’t worry about that,” Aria said, somewhat irritated, “As I was saying, this gold is the grand prize for a snowmobile race…”

Ivan raised his hand,

“I swear to god Ivan if you ask what a snowmobile is I’m throwing you off the side of this boat,” Aria said.  Ivan lowered his hand.

“Of course, none of us know how to operate such a thing, so we’re going to steal that gold.”

“And how do you plan on doing that?” Malifica asked.

“I haven’t quite gotten that far yet,” Aria said, “But when we meet Bowen in Luskan, we will sort that out.  For now, we have all we need to get underway.  Does everyone have what they need?”

“I have my staff,” said Moses.

“My daggers are ready to go,” said Swagstag.

“My bow is strung,” said Ivan.

“And I’ll happily set something on fire with my magic when you give the word,” said Malifica.  Aria dropped her hand to her own weapon- a rapier that was more for show than anything.  As she looked at her companions, a terrible thought hit her.

“Wait a second, do we not have anyone who can wield a sword?  A fighter?”

“You have a sword, don’t you?” said Ivan.

“Yes, but I’m a bard.  I was hoping to talk my way out of any problems we get into.  But I would expect if we met bandits or monsters on our way that they would not be open to discussion.”

“Why do we need a swordsman?  We’re all capable warriors,” said Malifica.

“Yes, but…I mean all the songs and stories of great adventures usually have a hero with a sword and armour.  They’re usually a man, in his early to mid-thirties, white and attractive with a beard and a lawful good disposition.”

“By the powers, you are quiet right,” said Moses, “There are indeed a lot of tales with heroes fitting that description.  Do you think our tale needs one as well?”

Aria shrugged, “Perhaps, perhaps not.  I have a feeling our band may not yet be complete.  The road will only tell.”

“Enough talking!” said Swagstag, “I say we go and get ourselves some goblin gold!”

The others all murmured in agreement.

“It’s agreed then,” Aria said, “Our quest has begun.”