The Great Update!

It has been a busy year so far in the Bennett household.
Firstly, I started work at a local large retailer which has had its ups and downs but overall is going well.
I also started a course on mental health at City college as a distance learner which is going well so far, and when I pass this course, I am thinking of going on to the next mental health course and possibly a counselling course with an eye to trying my hand at working within the mental health system. I have had so much help over the years from my local CMHT that I would like to be able to give something back by being a CBT practitioner or counsellor working for a local mental health team.

I have also registered on a part time Accounting course which starts in September which I am really looking forward to! It is something a little ‘out there’ for me but may open up doors in the industry when I qualify and especially if I go on to do the higher level courses.
Tracey has also got her eyes set on a beauty and make up course at City, I’m sure it will be strange the both of us being back at college again after 14 years! After she has qualified, she is then hoping to go onto the part time manicure course then possibly start her own business (with me as her accountant haha).

That leaves the writing.

I haven’t forgotten about my writing either though I have been having somewhat of a dry spell in recent times, I am hoping to get back into it using my trusty laptop and Scrivener now with the collaborative novel with my brother in law (now he uses Scrivener too).

I also aim to get back to my unnamed manuscript for a novel I have been working on, again with Scrivener.

Well, that is the great update, things are going pretty well at the moment and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel of my depression finally after a long time.

Thank you for reading and keep an eye out for future updates!

Feel free to find me on facebook at and like the page to keep updated on my work.


Witcher & Writing

I have recently been playing a bit of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt and loving it!
Having a huge world to explore on horseback and kill monsters and harvest their bodies for alchemy ingredients to make potions with is just great!
Yeah sure I can take a wrong turn straight into a high level enemy and get obliterated but that is part of the fun! Mark it and move on.
I am a little naughty though as I couldn’t resist getting Witcher 3 even though I have not finished Witcher 1 or 2, which I understand follows on but I am familiar enough with the characters and basic plot to understand what is going on even so.
I have had to start Witcher 1 Enhanced Edition again due to my long term save becoming corrupted or something, meaning I could no longer carry on with the main quest which annoyed me no end as I was pretty far in.
I have also recently picked up Witcher 2 for the 360 as it is backwards compatible with the Xbox One and had to start that again too so all fresh starts all round!

I have also been getting back into my Udemy courses on accounting software and Python programming language which seems to be going well.
I had installed Python Anaconda where you get the core language plus a metric ton of additional libraries for use as well as an IDE and a few other tools which I have literally no idea what they are for.
Problem is, I had to uninstall the old versions of Anaconda, which also uninstalled the new one for some reason then had to reinstall everything! Oh well, it seems to work fine now albeit a little slow.
Once I have completed all the courses on Python, I will be moving onto C# which is another language I would like to use for making my own game eventually.

Writing has been a little slow recently due to my health and my penchant for getting distracted by games or the Internet, but I have been watching loads of writing videos on YouTube and feel quite inspired to write again now and also bought a couple of books recently which are proving to be a good read (Your First Novel and The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus) which were recommended by YouTuber and author Kristen Martin who I have been binge watching in recent weeks! Go check out her channel!

Well, I am off to do some more writing so I will end it here, thank you for reading and have a great week!

Volunteering and Gaming

Hi all! it’s been a long time since my last post, but here i am with a fresh new one to thrill and amaze!
Volunteer work has kept me busy over the intervening period as well as my long suffering wife Tracey.
Sadly, our time with the council run local library came to an end as the library closed, though we did walk away with a friend and reference in our boss.

We then started volunteering for the Maritime Archaeology Trust identifying and recording lost wrecks from World War One, which goes right down my alley, being able to use my Google-Fu to tease any extra data from the Interweb!

I started volunteering at a local cafe which went really well and I discovered that maybe i could go back into a fast paced dynamic kitchen environment again after so many years away, there i gained valuable experience both in the back and out the front and remember my time there fondly (even one day when the freezers needed to be scraped out and cleaned which was fun! 😉

Recently, I started volunteering at a charity shop with Tracey and a friend to gain valuable retail experience and also with the Council again with the Museum Collections Service, digitising old records, which suits me fine being up to my neck in old records and entering them into a spreadsheet, which is probably as boring as it sounds to most, but to me it gives me a chance to brush up on my Excel skills! though some of that writing can be tricky to read!

I have been slowly coming around to my games again after a long time being unable to do so for health reasons and have been particularly enjoying Microsoft Flight Simulator X:Steam Edition and Euro Truck Simulator 2 with the amazing Promods, Rusmaps, and Jazzycat Trailer & AI Traffic mods amongst others (which I HIGHLY recommend to anyone who has ever fancied taking a truck across Europe!).

I love Simulators, 4X games and RPG’s and I am hoping to take this blog in a slightly different direction in the future.

I will be keeping to these small ‘updates’ about my life, but will also be talking about what games i have been enjoying recently and what mods I can recommend based on my personal preference.

I have also been enjoying Mass Effect Andromeda and Fallout 4 on Xbox way more than i probably should but Tracey and I have an understanding so I get games during the day, then we veg out and watch our series and maybe a film or two afterwards in the evening with dinner.  It works really well for us.

Being a huge, huge fan of the Mass Effect franchise, the release of Andromeda was greatly anticipated by me but due to being unable to run it on my PC and not owning an Xbox One, I couldn’t play it, but careful saving and a liberal splash of trading in old games and hardware in our local CEX, i managed to finally join the current-gen club!
I have not tested the mods feature of Fallout 4 yet, but when i get around to it, there are definitely a couple i would like to try out (though part of me is saying wait for a PC upgrade and get it on PC too for more modding fun and mod managers!).

Well, on top of all this, I have been trying to write where and when i can.  I have the software, the hardware and no excuses yet still struggle at times.

I have a collaborative fiction piece with my brother in law which is going really well and we are both enjoying it (yes, i will get back to it i promise! 😉

I have my blog, which as you have all realised has been somewhat abandoned of late (okay longer than that!) and i am working on my novel of which i hope to be able to post updates on here very soon.

And then there is my reading… thanks to Amazon and Bookbub, i have been able to expand my Kindle library to probably over a hundred books nearly all of which were free (book 1’s of a series or really old) or were heavily discounted, which is all great on paper, but with everything going on, I tend to just want to chill out with YouTube videos at bedtime (yes i know videos are probably not the best thing to be doing in bed!) though my Watch Later list grows by the day and the amount of series I have started watching of various game Let’s Plays also never seems to shrink!

I think that is all i have for you today, sorry about the long wait to those of you who read this blog, but i hope to get back in the saddle again quickly so please bear with me!

Football Manager Addiction!

Football Manager was named in 35 divorce cases in the UK.

Having played a fair few hours of it over the last couple of weeks I can see why.

I am not a huge follower of football and will be the first to put my hand up and admit I know next to nothing about football strategy and tactics (though I have printed out a few guides and read a lot of articles to increase my knowledge somewhat).  I understand they have streamlined  the game and improved vastly upon it since my last foray into Football Manager (2012) and I have found this version (2014) to be a lot simpler and more intuitive than the last one I played (I know it’s all a matter of opinion but I am getting on with this version better than 2010 or 2012 somehow).  Even though I am not a huge football fanatic, I still find this game highly addictive and think about it even when i’m not playing it and planning for my next session!.

Continue reading “Football Manager Addiction!”

Family History Fun!

I finally dug out all my family history paperwork yesterday and boy was there a lot of it!.

Legacy Family Tree Homepage
Legacy Family Tree Homepage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been researching on and off for years so every time i come back to it, i have to figure out exactly what it was i was doing last time.

I installed the very useful Legacy Family Tree 7.5 and opened up my family tree on the excellent and compared the two.

I have gone a lot further with Ancestry as it has a hints feature that helps you find and add new people to your tree, i just haven’t got around to syncing that with Legacy yet.

The only thing is to actually view the hints and records requires a subscription which I currently do not possess.  If I really make some progress this time, I may purchase a months access and see how it goes.

Legacy is a very powerful program and I have barely scratched the surface of what it can do, I use the built in help, but a printed manual would be easier to flick through to get to the part i need (but sadly that’s an extra $15 and the video tutorials are an extra $30 so I wont be buying them just yet.)

I will be sorting through all the paperwork over the next few days, sorting the digital records I have as well as the paper ones into family groups for easy reference instead of folders full of assorted Birth, Marriage and Death certificates.  I have seen a couple of videos on youtube about keeping records for genealogy research but I cannot recall which ones now.

I was recently annoyed when I received an email from Legacy telling me there was a new version out (Version 8) but when I downloaded and installed it, it prompted me for a customer ID, plugging that in didn’t work as this was a new program entirely and it wanted me to purchase it.

Needless to say, I uninstalled and will be sticking with 7.5 for now thank you!.

Well, better get back to the work, I have had a nice break by walking around the block with my beautiful wife enjoying the sunshine and re-installing some Xbox games (as we needed to switch Xbox’s before christmas keeping the old hard drive but the new Xbox wouldn’t pick up the installed games, requiring a delete and reinstall).

Wish me luck!

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More Planning!…

Well, recently I have been trying to distract myself from the ever present Depression by trying to get into my games.

I can play for longer than I could this time last year, but it is still a far cry from the old days when I could spend whole days and nights gaming!.

I am planning on applying for volunteer positions with a local farm and the local Police to give myself some structure as well as allotting time for writing, working on my BITC Paranormal Investigators course, Programming and Reading.

So far, it hasn’t been too effective as I find myself easily distracted, especially when I come up blank on what to write or something I don’t understand with Python! but I think this is the best way forward as it gets me back into the habit of working to a schedule.

I was recently ruthless with my games (see here) and have been trying to use Kinect more often for exercise (I know it doesn’t beat going outside but it’s better than nothing and saves me getting soaked in the rain!).

I still feel slightly silly using Kinect but it is pretty cool! I just hope it isn’t sending all those ridiculous videos of me playing and using voice commands to Microsoft for goodness knows what  nefarious purpose! 😉

Well, I suppose I should get on with some writing or coursework!.

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A Return to Gaming!

Fallout: New Vegas box art
Fallout: New Vegas box art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it’s been a fair old while since my last post, so i thought it high time to write and update you all on what’s been happening in my world.

Just before Christmas, we had a run of appointments, from the Dentist’s to the Doctor’s and also a hospital appointment or two so my apologies for not writing!.

I recently had a Liver Biopsy which was a unique experience, my appointment was at 0800 but I got called in early thinking “Yay! this will be over in no time!” but there was a few hour wait until I was called in during which time I had to have another shower using this antibacterial soap in preparation for my procedure (which was strange showering in a hospital!).

Finally, I was called in and had to lie on the bed (with my book ‘The Founding‘ by Dan Abnett just in case there was another delay) while they wheeled me down to the right area (I felt so lazy being able to walk but they wanted me lying down!).

The worst thing was the injection of the anaesthetic, that stuff burns when it goes in until it kicks in and numbs the area!  The Doctor performing the procedure was brilliant, explaining what was going to happen at each step and it was all over in a few moments (I also got to see the sample they took before I was wheeled back!).

After an hour lying on my right side and having my stats checked regularly, I was wheeled back up to the ward where my wife Tracey was waiting patiently (with her book!) and even though I felt ready to leave right away, I had to stay in until about 1900 lying down to ensure there was no complications! good job I had my wife and my book to keep me busy!!.

All the nursing staff and the Doctor were fantastic, I really felt they cared about me and they were friendly and warm, and people say the NHS is bad! we don’t know how lucky we are to have such a system!.

Christmas was great, Tracey got me a model of the SSV Normandy SR1 from Mass Effect 1 which has pride of place on my desk and the Elder Scrolls Anthology containing Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind GOTY, Oblivion GOTY and Skyrim GOTY.

Needless to say I am getting back into my games and the Elder Scrolls are my favourite universe! I even started using an Xbox controller in the PC to make it easier!.

I have also got into Flight Simulator X (with FS Flying School and REX Essentials) and have been putting a lot of time into Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Mass Effect 3 (even though I should be writing and doing my Paranormal Investigator course!).

College has been going really well, we have now finished Microsoft Word and Excel units (that last test was NOT fun! I hate nested IF statements and VLOOKUP!) and are going on to Publisher and Access if we have time, it’s great getting coffee in the Costa in the college as it is a fraction of the price it is outside and it’s really good coffee! helps keep me awake during the more complex parts when my eyes want to glaze over!.

We also sorted through all my games, getting rid of over fifty games (some I hadn’t looked at in years!) we traded them in at CEX in town (which took ages!) and got nearly £50 in vouchers which we spent on Kinect for the Xbox and a few Kinect games to get us started!.

Having a small lounge, we invested in the Zoom accessory for Kinect that is designed to get the Kinect to work in smaller rooms (It’s still not perfect but it is at least usable) and have been having fun with Kinect Sports (Yay Bowling!) and Your Shape 2012.

We finally finished watching all seven series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and are now watching The X-Files.

Well, time to go and do some Programming and maybe some writing, hope you all had a great Christmas!.

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The Week of Gaming Glory

I have had a really lazy week this week.

I have taken a break from job applications, courses and housework to sit on my behind and have a really good crack at some of the Xbox games that have been denying me for too long.

Not that I may necessarily have been stuck however, some of these games I had just stopped playing because I got bored, or moved on to another game, or it crashed and I was too tired and annoyed to go back to my last save point.

Usually, when these situations occur, and I cannot progress for love nor money, I call my brother in law, who has an uncanny knack for pulling off in one go what has been troubling me for some time.

Or, I will be showing him how impossible this particular section of the game is….and complete it first time I load it up!.

This week, it must have been my wife as my lucky charm, who likes to read and watch me playing my games and offer help and support.  Over half a dozen games gave way under my relentless assault!.

Admittedly, some of these revelations were shortlived as I proceeded to get stuck five minuites later… but that’s not the point is it? I got past that part!. The part I had been stuck on for so long.

An example.  The last time I played Mass Effect 2 before the wedding, I got to a certain part which was pretty hard, and as I finished it, the Xbox thought that was the perfect time to freeze solid…

I was NOT going to do that part again anytime soon.  No Sir.

And there it sat until last night, where I replayed it finally and the game ended literally minutes after that fight.. to say i was a touch annoyed was an understatement!.

Been toying with the idea of doing a Let’s Play of X3:Terran Conflict, after being reinvigorated by the upcoming X:Rebirth.

Looking forward to next month with the release of Skyrim, and march for the release of Mass Effect 3.

And they will probably be the only games on my mind for the near future.