It’s only a flippin’ Hobbit Hole!!!

I play Skyrim a lot. Or I played Skyrim a lot, but kinda finished most of the content (except the civil war storyline, not sure why I avoided that one!). I ran out of stuff to do, so we bought Dawnguard when it was on sale. £8.. what a bargain! We also started looking at mods to add extra content to the game.

Somehow I tripped across this (found it through the steam mod community, I believe). It’s a flippin’ hobbit hole!!!!!! It actually looks quite convincing, with a garden outside and it’s sort of buried into a hill. Inside you get Sting and the One Ring, along with a note stuck to the door welcoming you to your home.

On a practical note – I’m a Skyrim hoarder. I keep all the special weapons, all the jewellery, and all the books gained during quests. It means I have a lot of bounty and inheritance notes. This makes storage a real problem, because if I accidentally put something in a box/bag/chest then I’d have to sift through 200 different items to retrieve my weapon, armour or ingredient.

This mod has several storage containers including several chests, a wardrobe, a few end tables, and even a basement with of barrels and chests too. It doesn’t have an enchanting table, and is a bit out of the way (but with fast travel, it makes near as no difference).

I think the thing I like the most is how homely it is – the main room you walk into is the dining room, there’s a tiny bedroom but most of the space is devoted (in a very hobbity manner) to food and good company.

I know, it’s not strictly Tolkien-esque to have a vampire lord living in a hobbit hole, but I don’t care! I get to go home every Skyrim-night and sleep under a hill. (And I don’t have to deal with the randomly buggy moving mannequins in the pre-made houses that remind me of weeping angels from Dr Who!)

My ideal fantasy animal pet would be…

An otak, from the Earthsea world. In my head they’re kind of half way between a guinea pig and a chipmunk. Small enough to fit in a pocket, but big enough to hug properly.

The Otak is the real hero of the book.

It’s also an absolute kick-ass book.

EDIT:Or, I’d like a tree squeak, like the one Wren Ohmsford has in the Elf Queen of Shannara by Terry Brooks. (Expect some Brooks-related squee later on probably.)


Ok, I know I promised an upbeat happy post about hobbits or elves or something, but stuff has gone a bit awry.

I has a job interview yesterday. I wore my only sensible shoes to that interview (if purple corduroy ankle boots can be described as sensible…) and it wasn’t a long interview. From getting on the train to travel, including the interview, and getting home, all was done in about 3  hours.

I was shaking during the interview, and I thought this was because of nerves. It seems that it might have been muscle exhaustion causing me to shake instead.

Today, I am broken.

  • I have been shaking most of the day from fatigue.

  • My back won’t actually relax, which is pushing my shoulders out of their sockets quite a bit, which is painful, but the pins and needles are more annoying really.

  • My leegs are too painful to straighten, which makes standing or sitting down tough.
  • My right thigh is damaged somehow, and won’t bear my weight, so I can’t walk without balancing myself on my hands.
  • Trapped nerve in my neck as a result of the shoulder tension has given me a mighty headache, so forgive typos please!

I’ve been sat in bed, alone since 9 pm.

It’s no wonder I love books, films and the radio so much. And in answer to my previous post,, yes, today I am definitely disabled. It’s no wonder I get lost in books when my body disobeys me. Elves don’t have connective tissue disorders.

And, to make things worse, I’m fairly sure I didn’t even get the job!

Do you consider yourself to be disabled?

A woman asked me an interesting question the other day. She asked me whether I consider myself to be disabled.

The thing is being “disabled” is often misunderstood, people assume that being disabled and you can’t do anything. In reality being disabled means that you need reasonable adjustment in order to be observed lead a normal life. I definitely fall into this category, I sprain my thumbs on a regular basis which means that I have to be very careful when doing a lot of normal everyday things. The last injury I got was from trying to open some packaging, it with that annoying plastic crimped edge packaging that you get kids toys in at Christmas. I very carefully cut all of the crimped edges off and yet I still managed to pull a tendon in my shoulder and sprain my thumb.

I do quite often get funny looks from people when I mentioned my joint condition because I cover it quite well. It’s not visible anyway but I don’t talk about how much pain I’m in and I don’t talk about how exhausted I become. I think the problem and lies in the public perception of disability often means that you have to be completely incapable to register on the disability spectrum.

I don’t regard myself as disabled really because I can do almost everything, however I do declare my joint condition as a disability on job applications. I think this is a very important thing for me to do because even though employers are not allowed to discriminate against me because of my joints, if I went into a job without them knowing about my joints and then I became injured, I could not really expect them to understand.

I suppose it depends on how many adjustments you have to make in order to live a reasonable life, so I thought I’d list a few:

  • I decant my shampoo and conditioner into pump bottles because I can’t squeeze normal shampoo bottles.
  • I wear wrist supports and thumb supports to reduce the chance of sprains.
  • I hold spatulas and cooking implements differently to use the pressure in my wrists.
  • I used dictation software and type wherever possible to avoid my overly tight pen grip dislocating my thumb.
  • I use a tens machine, hot water bottles, hot showers, massages and over-the-counter painkillers to relieve my pain.
  • I have to use a suitcase to carry groceries back from my local store because I can’t carry them in normal carrier bags. I admit I am a little too vain to use a grocery trolley.
  • I wear orthotic inserts in my shoes to reduce the incidence of sprains and only where sensible footwear (within reason… I do occasionally wear kitten heels to feel pretty). I pretty much live in my trainers.
  • I can’t walk for long periods of time because my back can go into spasm and the tighter my back becomes the harder it becomes breathe, as the tense muscles pulled down on my rib cage.
  • I also can’t lift heavy things or things from high above my head and so have to use stepladders and reduce the weight of things I’m carrying by splitting them into smaller loads.

Now I don’t know if this makes me “disabled enough”. I’ve asked for advice about this and hypermobility syndrome is not classified on its own as a disability, as far as I can tell. It is often referred to as a manageable condition, but even the best managing of us bendy folks will have a flare up every now and then.

I think the trick lies in talking about my condition to as many people as I can. It’s not just being bendy, the exhaustion and anxiety and pain they go along with it make HMS a very difficult condition to live with. Being constantly told that I am “fine” or considered able-bodied when on days I can’t reach the floor to do my own shoes is not right. It’s not like I’m asking for disability benefit or huge amounts of funding, just a little consideration.  This does result in some people assuming that all I talk about my condition, which is absolutely not the case. At the moment I remind myself a bit of Adam Hills on “The Last Leg” during the Paralympics where he was getting all excited about little things that he could now talk to people other people with prosthetics about. I met some bendy people and the first question I asked them was if their fingernails are bendy and soft, and if they break easily. This question restrict see with a chorus of “Yes! Absolutely!” And I got a good few nail hardeners is recommended to me, with one person even resorting to false nails. It’s quite exciting to not feel lonely anymore.

So back to the original question I suppose: Am I disabled or am I not?

I would consider myself to be disabled in as much as I have to really think about the way I live my life to prevent myself from being injured. If I didn’t go through hours of physio then my condition would degenerate so quickly that I would probably need significant assistance in my everyday life.

Just because I am good at doing physio and I take care of myself doesn’t mean I’m magically cured, and I still need a small amount of help and a bit of understanding.

I promised that this blog wouldn’t be a whinge-filled irritation, so I promise my next few posts will involve more fun things, but it’s been quite cathartic to finally get this off my chest!

Tolkien Reads the Hobbit.

Tolkien Reads the Hobbit.

Re-Tweeted by, a lengthy excerpt of the Hobbit, read by the Hobbit-master himself.

I’ve also found (a while ago) this : It’s Tolkien singing the song about breaking the plates! (Yes, I have listened to it while washing up – I broke no plates.)


Weta are remaking Thunderbirds!

Weta are remaking Thunderbirds!

I’m so excited about this, Weta Digital are going to re-make Thunderbirds.

I love Thunderbirds because:

  1. It’s a great story.
  2. It’s nice idea that someone can come along and fix everything.
  3. It has great female role models unlike so many other sci-fi series. Lady Penelope really does kick ass.
  4. Everything in it is something you actually could make as a child, with enough yoghurt pots.
  5. It’s nice that all the boys are mildly (to extremely) techy and nerdy – and yet they still get to be the heroes!

Weta digital is the workshop responsible for the special-effects in the Lord of the Rings and Avatar. This means they created the Gollum that you see in the films!

Though it will be weird to see the Tracy boys without strings attached, I really look forward to seeing this concept without giggling about the bad puppetry.

As an additional note, I am writing this using my dictation software. It has had a few problems with my accent (mild Bristolian) specifically the words yoghurt and ass but other than that it worked pretty well. It even recognized Gollum! I didn’t even have to train it to do that!

I love it when things come together!

Because my hands hurt when I type a lot, I was provided with a rather neat piece of software – It’s called Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and you dictate into it and it will understand what you’re saying, correct your grammar and even allow you to perform simple commands. I only usually use it for processing large volumes of data and long essays, but it’s pretty awesome. I’ve got a Plantronics headset to go with it but recently mine broke.

I called up Barry Bennett, and they were good enough to give me a replacement because mine’s still under warranty/insurance, but it’s of a new model. It’s good practice when using dictation software that, when you get a new microphone to “train” your dictation software by reading through their improvement programme which uses a few chapters of a book pre-loaded onto the programme. Today, I read several chapters of 3001: A Final Oddysey by Arthur C Clarke. 

It’s not so tedious when there’s something decent to read! They also offer some Roald Dahl, and even Lewis Carroll. I’m quite impressed really. The Sci-Fi will hopefully help the software deal with a little of the scientific language I’m using in my dissertation! 

Sadly, I’m not using my headset to “talk-type” this, as the user profile is updating and it takes a while (and I’m an impatient so and so!). It does mean, however, that if I get typos and gobbledegook in my future posts, you’ll know why!

I’m also planning to explain in a future post, some of the adaptations I’ve had to put in place because of my condition – maybe I’ll take it one joint at a time!

The Soddit (and other Adam Roberts stuffs)

To make up for the last grumpy grump of a post, here’s a generally positive one.

The Soddit (A.R.R.R. Roberts) is an awesome parody of Tolkien’s Hobbit, I’ve read it before and am currently re-reading it for the first time in a few years. It’s not a great literary read, it’s full of rude jokes and bad puns, and major themes include foot pain, toast and smoking “pipe”weed. There’s a lot of references to “treasure” too, and our protagonist Bingo Grabbings goes off to get the “treasure” from Smug the Dragon.
The original story is fairly similar to that of the Hobbit, but it takes a slight tangent when it gets towards the end. I’m not one for spoilers, but it’s definitely not what I expected the first time.
I think the most charming thing about Roberts’ book is the foot notes. The derision extended towards the concept of a round door is both logical and amusing. It had never crossed my mind before that a round door was a stupid idea, and that’s clearly why most people don’t have them!

I do also own the Sellamillion (Roberts’ parody of the Silmarillion). I’ve never managed to get past the first chapter of this one. That might be, however because I’ve never managed to read the Silmarillion. It’s a bit like trying to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica, only knowing that none of it is real. The Sellamillion follows the style of the Silmarillion closely – so closely I actually found it as appealing as having my eyes gouged out with rusty spoons. Though I suppose I should blame that on Tolkien rather than Roberts…

I’ve also read The Va Dinci Cod which was great. I’ve not read the original book, but have seen the film. A friend loaned me it, and I really enjoyed the way that the tenuous storylines present in the original were stretched to near breaking point, and then stretched some more.

I do occasionally wonder if I should read some of Roberts’ proper novels, and then I realise that these parodies are perfectly handbag sized and make me giggle while in the Physiotherapy waiting room.

Oh, and make sure you check out the map. I like the idea of living next to “The Well of Inever”, though being of Hobbit/Soddit descent, I’d clearly be living in Hobbld-Ahoy.

Déjá vu…

I am a regular listener of BBC Radio 4 Extra. (Which used to be BBC Radio 7, which was much easier to say. It got re-branded and has Ambridge Extra on it. It’s like The Archers for people who don’t like cows.) I have been listening for well over 2 years now and have come across a serious problem. They repeat programming so much!!

Every day, most sections get repeated twice. Being a Sci-fi/Fantasy nut, I love the 7th Dimension, the sci-fi section, and they often have amazing adaptations of well known authors… Lovecraft, Bradbury, and occasionally the less-literary but no less awesome Doctor Who radio adaptations. Listening to the radio helps me work, so I will listen for several hours a day, so I can often hear the same show twice.

I understand that most people won’t listen to the radio continually for hours (or at least not spoken word radio), so I will accept these repeats as a reasonable device to allow their programmes to not be missed. It seems a little redundant in times when the internet is so readily available and all their shows are available online (bearing in mind it’s a digital station), providing the iPlayer technical gremlins have been kept in their respective boxes, but I will accept that some people don’t like listening to the radio online.

However in the last two years of listening I have realised that they recycle a LOT of programming. I’ve heard “The Woman in Black” at least twice in the last year. This week, Slipstream is being broadcast again. The problem for me lies in the fact that I’ve got quite a good memory. Granted, perhaps a 24 year old student isn’t within Radio 4 Extra’s typical readership. There are some dramas that lose their impact on the second time round. The impact of these is related to the suspense of the story. Once you know the twist, the magic is gone. I loved Rendezvous with Rama the first time I heard it. Once you find out the twists and get to the root of the problem, the prior episodes are redundant.

Some can be repeated over and over, and scripting can keep you held even more with each successive repeat. A good example of this would be Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers series. (Yes, even the posthumous ones), or Fatherland with Anton Lesser. These are marvellous and could be repeated a million times and I’d probably never tire of them. Even the BBC adaptation of Lord of the Rings with the English sounding Orcs and the fact that they cut out Glorfindel as always (The travesty!!!) is amazing. It’s also extensive with thirteen 1 hour long episodes. Why can’t we listen to those?

Repeat things that your dedicated listeners won’t get bored with, and fill the remaining gaps with programmes that haven’t been broadcast for at least a year.

Bear in mind that this station is part of the BBC, and so probably has access to most of the BBC’s extensive archive – and I end up spending my afternoons listening to re-runs of the same shows over and over – I’m not entirely sure it’s good enough.