Green Gunpowder

25 11 2015

Atkinson's Coffee

When I was young, much younger than I am now, roughly about 20 years ago at least; but when I was young, when it was Christmas or my Mam’s Birthday, I would usually go and buy her some Coffee from the Coffee Shop. A specific one most of the time in Lancaster’s own J. Atkinson & Co. Ltd, which is to coffee what Ollivander’s is to wands in Harry Potter. Anyway, I would always buy coffee from them for my Mam for Birthday’s and Christmas. I used to love going in there, picking a coffee, having a smell and then having it ground up and given to Mam as a present.

One time however my Dad suggested that we go to a coffee shop in Kendal. Can’t remember what it was called, I was about 7/8 at the time. Anyway we went in and bought some coffee, and I think had a drink in the café too. While we were there though, I spotted something which I was immediately drawn too. My favourite colour back then (and for some part today still is) was green, and I liked the name of the coffee/tea that was displayed across the side of the large tin. It was called Green Gunpowder. Never knew what it was or what it looked like or anything. But that name remained inside my head because I liked the sound of it.


Years went by, and eventually I stopped getting Coffee consistently for my Mam, I don’t know why, I just did, and with it, I did not venture inside Atkins or any other coffee shop since, other than places like Starbucks and Caffé Nero obviously, and best of all; Esquires, well it’s the culture now isn’t it? I can remember when a tourism advert was published in a newspaper in London which said this country had over 300 castles but only 6 Starbucks. How times have changed.

Green Gunpowder Tea

Well last week, because I was on the very street of Atkinson’s, and spotted the shop, I decided to venture inside just to have a look around, and on the shelf I could spot Green Gunpowder, so I asked if I could have a look just to satisfy my age-old question. It wasn’t much to look at, it was a tea that was sort of green in colour, don’t remember much about the smell; but for simply being able to finally find out what it was, made my morning. Still won’t drink it though, I don’t drink Tea or Coffee, more a Hot Chocolate man myself.

Hot Chocolate Drink


The Undertaker And Me

18 11 2015

Undertaker 2

This coming Sunday marks a very special moment in the history of Professional Wrestling. At this year’s up and coming WWE Survivor Series event, the whole world of Professional wrestling will celebrate the anniversary of the debut of one of the greatest Professional Wrestlers in the entire history of Professional Wrestling. This week marks the 25th anniversary of the debut of The Undertaker. Now for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, well; The Undertaker is a Professional Wrestler (real name Mark Calaway) who for the past 25 years has been wrestling for the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Anyway to mark such a momentous moment in Pro Wrestling history, I wanted to do something special, but couldn’t figure out what. So in the end I decided to do just a post on what The Undertaker has meant to me; because well, from the moment I started watching WWE, he was there from the beginning and throughout that time, and even when I began to watch other Wrestling promotions like TNA (Total Nonstop Action), he has remained my favourite.

WWE Logo

I have always known about Pro-Wrestling. I remember when my brother used to watch videos of WCW (World Championship Wrestling) events on VHS and it starred notable wrestlers like STING. I also remember watching this Hulk Hogan cartoon thing when I was younger too. Even when WWF at the time was making a mark on Sunday Afternoon television on Channel 4, I remember seeing my brother watching it. But at no time during any of this was I interested in it. In 2003 my family got Cable TV for the first time, and on SKY One they used to show Wrestling programs, but I was not interested then either. This changed however in July 2004 when just before I was about to go away on a camping holiday in Clapham, I just watched it. And I liked it. I remember seeing wrestlers like Kurt Angle back when he was Smackdown General Manager and Eddie Guerrero in his bouncing car. One thing that stood out for me though was when JBL (John Bradshaw Layfield) was talking smack about being champion and then The Undertaker walking out and challenging him for the WWE Championship; uttering the words “You, Me, Summerslam”. From that moment I was hooked, and when the camp finished I couldn’t wait to turn on the TV back home and find out what was going on. I soon became a big fan, and the Undertaker was my favourite. There were other wrestlers that I also liked including Booker T, Eddie Guerrero and Rob Van Dam, but the Undertaker always shined through, and whenever he came out to the ring, it was an Amazing moment to watch. Smoke filling the walkway, his music coming on, after the famous single bell toll.

A few months later I even got to go and see WWE live when Smackdown was shown Live in Manchester at the MEN Arena for the first time. I can still remember going with my Mam and Brother, going into that packed building and seeing so many wrestlers fighting amongst themselves. And lo and behold, I also got to see The Undertaker wrestle right in front of my eyes as he went 1 on 1 with Heidenreich. That part wasn’t shown on Television, but just seeing him there was amazing. As time went by I cheered for him on TV and got angry when he lost matches, particularly when it involved a Championship. His appearances on the TV shows were on and off, but I still hung in for hope, hoping he would come back soon.

TNA 2012 Manchester Arena

By this time I was a regular viewer of WWE Smackdown on Sky One but struggled after that when it moved to Sky Sports, which my family did not have. Thankfully a new show in the shape of the WWE Experience came on Sundays so I could somewhat keep up. Eventually however, we got Sky Sports and I was able to get back into it. By the end of 2005; after a long and lengthy rivalry with Randy Orton came to a close, during Christmas that year I received a copy of Tombstone: The History Of The Undertaker on DVD. Throughout the Christmas holidays (which was a big help as I was in a Zimmer Frame at the time) I watched nearly the entirety of the DVD (still have some extras to watch). Some of the matches it included were the Hell in a Cell match against Mankind and a match at King of The Ring against The Rock (also one of my favourite Undertaker Entrances).


Professional Wrestling is like a soap opera, and stories need to be followed by the audience, and some of the time these aren’t all that inviting and you can begin to waver from them. And when your favourite character is not around as much, it can be hard to keep going. For a while I was, throughout 2006 with some appearances from The Undertaker as he wrestled people like Mark Henry, plus another chance to see The Undertaker as well as Kane in Manchester again. Then followed by his successful victory at the Royal Rumble, his rivalry with Batista and his runs as World Heavyweight Champion. That is all good and fun, but eventually things began to wrap down, and in 2008, TNA debuted on the now defunct uk channel Bravo. With a new and fresh wrestling show to watch which in turn was also at the time at least a lot more exciting and featured stars like Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, Abyss and of course STING, my interest in WWE began to waver. The Undertaker was still a part over at WWE, but as time marched on, he began to be seen less and less, and ultimately as the years went by, just came down to 1 appearance at Wrestlemania a year. Things though began to change, and my interest in WWE and the Undertaker sparked up a little bit as for a period of 4 years faced 2 other Great Wrestlers in HBK Shawn Michaels and Triple H. While I wouldn’t watch any other part of that company except for either interest or by accident, I would keep informed of those matches, and while I did not get to see those shows, I really wanted to see those matches. Still haven’t.

TNA 2012 AJ Styles

TNA at the time for me was going off leaps and bounds producing far better shows, including 2 far better live shows back in Manchester with stars like Sting and Hulk Hogan on show at the last one I went to see (check out my photos). As for WWE, that quickly became boring due to the constant of John Cena being champion all the time. Soon though as TNA began to get into issues, the product started to lose its effectiveness on me. For the last few years on both promotions it’s been a feign interest. Things have begun to change recently, while I hope TNA will go back to the way it became, WWE is starting to look good again with Wrestlers like Paige lighting up the entire Diva division, and interesting new stars like The New Day, plus returned legends like STING (first time in WWE), Brock Lesnar and the Dudley Boyz making WWE the place to be. But, I always have a soft spot for my favourite Wrestler; The Undertaker. I was shocked like many when he lost to Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania a few years ago (I thought it should have been someone like Goldberg), but his sudden recent return to fight back Brock Lesnar has got me geared back into WWE a bit.


My fascination with wrestling is still in me down there. I have become a fan of Total Divas, but for the most part I am now a casual observer. Sure I will watch the odd video, and still listen to the Wrestler’s Entrance music on YouTube, but, I am a more casual observer. However, there is always one thing that will get me watching WWE. Yes, his career is now starting to wane, and I feel like his retirement is now going to be a lot sooner than later, but, even when he does decide to go, he will remain a true legend in the sport of Pro Wrestling. There will always be a part of me that longs to see the Phenom; The Undertaker once again.

GENEPOOL (Apologies if this post seems scattered, it was more just a brief overview of me and The Undertaker. Maybe I’ll do one when he gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame… promises).

Sleeping Queens

11 11 2015

Sleeping Queens

Sleeping Queens is a card game for between 2 – 5 players released by Gamewright and designed by Miranda Evarts. In Sleeping Queens, players have to wake up Queens who are currently in a long slumber using a variety of different cards. The first player to wake up the required number of queens (dependent on how many people are playing) or score the required number of points, Wins. In the middle of the table, there are 12 queen cards laid faced down. Each Queen has a different name and picture. Some are worth more points than others.

Sleeping Queens Setup

On a turn, a player plays a card onto the table. There a number of cards and options that they can do. Some of the cards they have in their hands are action cards, and have different effects. If a player plays a King card, then they can wake up one of the queen in the centre of the table. If they play a Knight card, then they can steal a queen from another player, however, if that player has a Dragon card, they can play that dragon to prevent the knight from stealing the queen. If a player has a Sleeping Potion card, then they can put another players Queen back to sleep, unless that player however has a Magical Wand card, which prevents the potion from taking effect. In the pack there are also some Number cards. These don’t have much of an effect other than allowing players to get rid of them to draw more and hopefully better cards. Players can discard these number cards in one of 3 ways. One, they can just discard a single number card. Two, they can discard two number cards of the same number. Three, they can sell 3 cards that make up an addition equation, so for instance they can discard a 2, 5 and a 7 because 2+5=7. Once the number of cards have been discarded (so 1, 2 or 3 cards) the player then immediately picks up that many cards.

Sleeping Queens Number Cards

There is also another card of mention, the Jester card. Jester’s work like chance cards. Basically, a player can play a Jester into the playing area, doing this they immediately draw a new card. If that card is an action card, then the player keeps that card and has another go. If however the card is a number card, then starting from themselves, the player counts each player around the table the number of times it says on the card. The player that the final number lands on immediately gets to wake up a queen. At the end of their turn players draw back up to the hand size and play passes round to the next player.

Sleeping Queens Jester

As far as the rules of the game goes, that’s it. Although there is some special rules regarding some of the other Queen’s. If a player picks up the Rose Queen, then that player immediately gets to pick up another. The other Queen rule is that there is a Dog Queen and Cat Queen, and much like both cats and dogs, these two don’t like each other, so no player can have both these Queens. But apart from that, that’s the rules, nice and simple.

Sleeping Queens Action Cards

Sleeping Queens is a nice fun little game. It is easy to play, and can be relatively straightforward the first time you play it. It has been nicely created with an assortment of colourful cards with lovely pictures on them. The Kings and Queens themselves have nicely been created too by having not just some generic King or Queen, but have names like Sunflower Queen, Starfish Queen, Bubble-gum King or Turtle King. The number cards too have nice little pictures on as well, maintaining that they are not just numbers, but all cards have their own special little extras. It doesn’t get bogged down neither with lots of little extra rules, it really is a game where you can simply just take your turn and instantly know what to do. Altogether, Sleeping Queens is a nice fun little game. It’s easy to understand, play and has been nicely created to bring as much fun to the table as is possible.

Sleeping Queens Kings and Queens


Godzilla News – Giant Apes and Big Insects

4 11 2015

King Kong vs Godzilla

Yes I saw it too. A few weeks ago I heard exciting news regarding the future of the new American Godzilla series. The news being that in 2020, the King of the Monsters will be going toe to toe with the King of Skull Island; King Kong. This is will not be the first time that these 2 Behemoths of the silver screen will have met in combat before. Back in 1963, Toho in Co-operation with Universal released King Kong vs Godzilla. This featured two clashes between the monsters, one which Godzilla won nearly setting Kong on Fire, and the other which ended with Kong swimming away and no sign of Godzilla. The film itself though was not much of a Godzilla film as Godzilla featured characteristics very un-Godzilla like and was portrayed as more a big dinosaur akin to American Monster Movies, than the Japanese Monster. This time around though, things should be different all thanks to Godzilla’s resounding, triumphant return to America in last year’s film. So all being well, Godzilla won’t be all that messed around with in this new battle between the two. This is not the first time since 1963 either that another fight between these 2 has been suggested with plans for films dating back to 1963 (and one I remember seeing on the same site planned for some time in the 90’s).

News of this film comes nearly a year since the announcement that Legendary Pictures plan to release a King Kong spinoff/prequel in form of Skull Island. Originally planned for a 2016 release, this date was pushed back to 2017 (the film itself currently in production, as in right now). Plans for the film were tossed around a bit though since its original announcement and come as part of a plan to create a shared universe (another one) with classic and new giant monsters in them, possibly due to the success of Godzilla last year, plus the acquisition of the rights to classic Toho Monsters including Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah.

Godzilla v.s Mothra and King Ghidorah

Things though are a little confusing about this announcement. When you compare the sizes of both creatures, Godzilla in the recent film is about 110 meters tall, King Kong’s height has been measured to be no higher than 25 feet which when run through a converter comes to about 7.62 metres. Therefore Kong is definitely the smaller of the 2, a lot smaller. Still big enough not to be entirely squashed underfoot, but still too small to cause any real damage to Godzilla. Plus, if Kong is really that hairy, Godzilla’s Atomic Deathray will easily cause the ape to catch fire. So for this new film, Kong is really going to need to be rescaled. Because well, you can’t down size Godzilla to 7.26 metres as that will be very inaccurate (reminds me of something once said on Vidzilla over 15 years ago).

Godzilla vs King Kong 2020

Supposed plans for this film at the moment suggest that at some point the 2 Goliaths will face each other in battle, but will together face a mutual threat. No idea what this threat is at the moment, we are still waiting for Godzilla 2 to come out (which is a little delayed with the Director moonlighting over at LucasFilm). Hopefully though once that and Skull Island are out of the way news will come in thick and fast (although I am a little worried for Godzilla 2 as Universal have announced that the sequel to the best film this year: Jurassic World is going to be released the same month as Godzilla 2) regarding what will be happening. Who knows, Maybe Godzilla will finally get a match against Desghidorah or a long overdue rematch with Battra. With a little bit of time still to go though (about 5 years of it) until this film gets released, there is still plenty to look forward to with both Kong and Godzilla getting outings until they finally meet in 2020.


Quickly I just want to mention something completely un-Godzilla related. I found out news last week (after buying 3 classic Michael Crichton books for £5) that a film of Crichton’s last book: MICRO is planned. DreamWorks are the ones pursuing it with input from Producer Frank Marshall and a close friend of Crichton’s; Steven Spielberg. While there is no real news of when it will be coming out, I am really excited by this news. Micro was the second best book I read last year, I preferred it to Jurassic Park and to hear that Spielberg is helping in the production of the film is great news. So expect insects galore as Micro will hopefully be released sooner or later. But until that happens, you have plenty of time to read the book. So head down to your local chain of Waterstone’s and pick it up……….”NOW!”

Micro (Harper Collins - 2012)


I Am Doing NaNoWriMo

31 10 2015

Pen and Paper

I know what you’re thinking; “what on earth does that say?” am I correct? NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is an online based project that takes place annually in November and encourages people to write. Basically for those who participate, everyone needs to try and write 50000 words from the minute it becomes the 1st of November, to 23:59 on November 30th (supposedly the minimum word count for a novel). I first heard of NaNoWriMo back in 2010 when my friend Hannah decided to do it. I have heard bits and bobs about it since then, but only decided to do it this year because since leaving University I have found it hard to simply sit down and start writing the novel I have been silently developing in my head since early June. So I am going to attempt to write it this month.

Blade Runner (Warner Bros. - 1982)

There is already some issues as my November is quite packed with events and opportunities including my annual Fireworks Social, a Creative Writing Pyjama Party, another Short Story Slam in Chorley and the opportunity to see Blade Runner for the first time. However I am still confident that I will have plenty of time to write as much as I can, and if not 50000 words, then at least enough for me to commit to writing it in the meantime. I will probably do some status updates on here to let you all know how I am getting on. I have no idea how the next month is going to pan out, but I am excited to take part and finally get down to-work on my first novel.


GENEPOOL (Apologies for the short post, I have a much bigger one ready to be posted on Wednesday).


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