Friday, 23 March 2012


Hi everyone and welcome back to my blog. I know it’s been a while since I last updated it, but work has been a little manic this past month and I haven’t been able to write as much as I would like. Still, here’s what’s going on right now:

Netcars: My Netcars blog is still online at, with the latest article inspired by the arrival of Laura’s new Mk4 Golf GTI. Future articles will cover topics including the evolution of the Ford Mustang as well as coverage from some of this summer’s upcoming shows. Feel free to keep checking for updates and commenting with your opinions – almost 6,000 people have viewed the blog since it went live almost a year ago and I’d love to keep this momentum up!

WhatCulture: After the somewhat ‘mixed’ reception given to my last two articles – which you can find and – it’s almost time for another one. The subject this time around? ‘Why Assassins Creed games are some of the greatest of this generation’. Actually, perhaps that should be ‘Why Assassins Creed games are the greatest of this generation’... that should stir up a fair bit of debate! Again, it’s great to know that these articles spark discussion, so please keep reading them and telling me what you think!

The Suffolk Regiment ‘book’: Unfortunately, progress on the Suffolk Regiment research that I’ve been doing remains slow. My secondary source reading has taken me almost to the Rhine; once I’ve covered Germany and the end of the war in Europe it will be time to tackle the Record Office and see what else I can find. This should be when the real fun starts, as I uncover some previously unpublished material which will place greater emphasis on the social side of the war. I’ll try and update regularly, so watch this space...

The Capri: So as most of you already know, the Capri came back from the body shop about three weeks ago. It’s not quite finished yet – the stripes which run down each side to separate the two paint colours needed to be specially made and have only turned up today – but I’m pleased to announce that the car should be finished up by the end of the week. Once it’s completely sorted I’ll put some pictures up on my Facebook profile and on here as well.

Lastly, don’t forget to add me on Facebook -!/FordCapriCalypso and follow me on Twitter - @SonOfDel

Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

#11 – My First Game Review – SKYRIM!

Elves, Orcs and Nords. Bows, Swords and Magic. Snowy mountains, rich green forests and long abandoned ruins. So begins my adventure in Skyrim.

Released for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on November 11 2011, Skyrim is the sequel to classic RPG games Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind and Oblivion as well as being the sister franchise to the Fallout series. Having only played the previous games at friends’ houses, I decided to buy the newest iteration of the Elder Scrolls story after growing fed up of paying forty odd quid for games which lasted about five hours. With Skyrim I hoped for a game that would offer some decent replayability, an interesting storyline and an intuitive and engaging experience. Suffice to say, I haven’t been disappointed...

 Image Credit: Doctor Mobius

The quality of the graphics in Skyrim is, for the most part, simply incredible. Strong praise indeed, since I play on a standard definition telly. I can’t imagine what it must look like for those gamers blessed with the opportunity to engage in some big screen, high def adventuring.

Every facet of the environment is expertly rendered; the gravel paths look rough, dusty and well trodden; the pine trees are weather ravaged and worn; and the various ruins are believably aged and battle scarred. The effect of this is that the player feels like they are part of a living, breathing world with a history stretching back centuries, as opposed to feeling like you’re playing a game which is ultimately a twenty first century product. The textures throughout the game are vivid and sharp, without the blurry and out of focus smudging which has plagued many open world titles before it. The attention paid to light and shadow becomes particularly noticeable when playing as a stealth character, with the latter useful for picking pockets and silently assassinating foes, while the night sky presents a spectacle all by itself as bright hues of green and blue intermingle as far as the eye can see.

One of the very few flaws in Skyrim’s graphics can be found in a principal element of its construction: for a game which has conversation and interaction as core elements, the facial expressions of many of the characters are considerably lacking. Perhaps I was spoilt when I played L.A. Noire, which had the greatest facial animation ever added to a video game as its main selling point. I don’t expect Bethesda to use the same technology in their games – after all, if L.A. Noire was three discs, think of how many you would need for Skyrim – but at the same time could they not have polished this aspect up just a little bit? 

 Image Credit: Alexander Savin

 Skyrim’s menu screen is very simple, with the logo superimposed onto a basic black background. However, let the game sit on this screen long enough and the music will kick in. It’s amazing. Then play the game itself and pay attention to the melody quietly but powerfully resonating in the background. Predominantly an orchestral score, it’s clearly a reflection on the Viking inspiration behind the game’s setting, which makes it a perfect accompaniment to the narrative. Put simply, whether you’re wandering through the expansive rural areas, pick pocketing in the bustling towns or fighting dragons, this music WILL make you feel like a badass. Guaranteed.

Around five minutes into the game, the player is given free rein to create their character. Choosing from a variety of different races, the customisation menu then offers a number of presets. From here, almost every single aspect of a character’s face can be changed, from the colour of their scars to the shape of their eyebrows. It’s essentially Fallout’s character creation system gone mad, with nigh on every conceivable facial feature able to be altered. Normally, spending so much time programming a part of the game which will rarely be seen would be considered a waste of time and resources, but in this case it’s just another example of Bethesda’s attention to detail and emphasis on role play adventuring.

Aside from customising a character’s physical appearance, their clothes and their armour, players can also choose from a diverse range of methods for dispensing with their enemies. As an example, I currently have two separate accounts; on one, my character uses bows and arrows exclusively, while the other uses predominantly magic to safely navigate the world. By destroying everything. With fire. It often feels like I’m playing two different titles altogether, such is the way that the game forces you to adopt alternate approaches to quests based on your current skills and weapons.

Moving from character selection to the portion of the game which is essentially the ‘tutorial’, the player is forced to decide between two paths. A refreshing change from the linearity of many modern titles, this is nothing compared to what awaits when the game begins in earnest. The ‘Do What You Like When You Like’ mentality is a brilliant one and it’s taken to the very extreme with Skyrim. Let me give you some examples: feel like running through the main quest? Some people have done it in three hours. Fancy doing none of the main quest and spend your time killing giants, stealing jewellery or smithing powerful weapons? Feel free and watch hundreds of hours disappear into thin air. I’ve only just begun the game, but I know that it will keep me entertained for many months to come! 

 Image Credit: rexxgon

As many of you have no doubt read, heard or experienced, Skyrim is not without its problems. Stories of dragons flying sideways into mountains, saves being corrupted and items disappearing with no explanation are commonplace. However, although I’ve only played for a short while compared to most, I have *touch wood* experienced no such problems. The frame rate is smooth and I’ve had no issues with buildings, trees, people or animals randomly ‘popping in’ to the environment.  I’ve also had problems when completing quests, although as I said it’s early days. I run the game from the disc, so perhaps installing it to the HDD is a detrimental move? Please comment and let me know your own experiences of glitches and annoyances, as I only have my own (limited) experience to go on at the moment.

So, is Skyrim worth its asking price? If you enjoy RPGs, or just fancy having a go at a game which offers a richer and more expansive narrative than most, then the answer has to be yes. So far I’ve only scratched the surface of what the game has to offer, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable. The only point to consider is this: ensure that you have enough time to play it, as you may end up going without food or sleep or calling in ‘sick’ to work for a few days!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

#10 – Buying Car Insurance & The Tale of the ‘Hypno – Chick’ Dice

Hello everyone and welcome to my second post of the month :)

This week I’ve mainly been working, but I’ve also found plenty of time to swear about car insurance. This year has been especially trying; the number of insurers willing to quote me decreasing at a rate inversely proportional to the prices that the remaining ones will offer.

If you too are growing annoyed at finding decent insurance, I’ve catalogued my tips and tricks into a simple to follow guide which you can find here.

In other news, the Capri is still awaiting its restoration ready for next summer. In the meantime, I found a couple of bits that have been written about the old Ford and its brethren that made me laugh the other day so thought I’d share with you –

Ford Capri Car Review:

"There is no doubt that in its day the Capri was the fastest car on the road, with a superb rear wheel drive chassis and rear leaf springs which allowed you to fully explore the F1 type handling. It was also this same rear wheel drive powertrain that helped the Capri become the car that invented 'four wheel steer', long before Honda stole the idea.

"On the outside, exotic looks made the Capri a thing of beauty to behold. Witness the length of the bulging bonnet hiding the fiery Ford power. See how it mocks the E-Type's pussy shape with its macho stance and Desperate Dan square chin spoiler.

Special equipment includes:

This always reads 15% on the slow side, allowing you to keep a straight face when pulled by the plod for speeding. Back in the day, the fact that the ticket read '40 in a 30', when you knew you were doing at least 50, was only because the Plod were driving the mighty 3 litre vehicle with the same speedo.

Not content with handling prowess streets ahead of the opposition, Ford engineers took the F1 rear wing and used it as a mere starting point in their pursuit of aerodynamic perfection. By using special hi-tech pliable rubber, Ford was able to create a rear wing which could change shape under the huge wind pressure created by the Capri's monstrous top speed. Bear in mind that this was 20 years before those thieving Krauts at Porsche managed to achieve the same feat only by employing a computer.

With Ford - Lotus dominating F1 it was only to be expected that Ford should take the circuit racer's greatest technology (the stickers) and put it into the road racers. As a result, those Capris badged 'S' 'J.P.S', Special' and ' XLR' are 10% quicker than all of the other ones.

No self-respecting street warrior could be seen without the factory fitted furry dice. These stylish cubes of power were available only in black with white spots and carried Henry Ford's personal "you will get laid" guarantee.

Ford engineers were able to combine the DNA of cows with the fossilised remains of sea creatures and through a special petro-chemical process, not unlike that seen in Jurassic Park, created the sensuous leather-effect steering wheel and gear knob.

6 clocks were, and still are, the standard for car instrumentation. Any less and there is no-way to see just how well your car is performing. Note how even the eyeball air vent below the a pillar is cleverly designed to look like a gauge to create even more of an impression!

We all know Ford spares are cheap and readily available but with the Capri, repairs just aren't needed because this car is so reliable. If you see one broken down at the road side it is because it has been sabotaged by someone, probably a Vauxhall owner. It is more than possible to travel 190,000 miles in a Capri without ever needing to change the oil, plugs or filters. FACT.

The Ten Commandments of the Ford Capri:

1) I am the Capri, thy car who has delivered thee out of the hands of the Vauxhall Nova. Thou shalt have no other cars before me.

2) Thou shalt not make for thyself any graven images of Chevrolets, nor of Pontiacs, nor of Oldsmobiles, nor of anything that is made by GM; thou shalt not bow down to them, for the Ford is a jealous car.

3) Thou shalt not take the name of the Ford in vain, even though the company now forsakes thee and sends thee no spare parts.

4) Remember thy oil changes, and keep them faithfully. 6,000 miles shalt thou drive and do all thy errands, but then shalt thy Capri rest and have its oil changed.

5) Honour thy 13mm wrench and thy Philips screwdriver that thy Capri’s days may be long in the land of the living.

6) Thou shalt not kill Capris by driving them in salt.

7) Thou shalt not commit unmentionable acts in the back seat, lest thou hurt thyself, for it is far too cramped back there. And remember ye the benefits of reclining front bucket seats.

8) Thou shalt not steal engines from Chevrolets for use in Capris, for this is an abomination.

9) Thou shalt not bear false witness about thy 0-60 time, nor thy top speed.

10) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s 3.0 X-Pack, nor his 2.8i, nor his 280 Brooklands, nor his Tickford Turbo, nor any Capri that is thy neighbour’s. Thou shalt fix up thine own instead, and make thy neighbour covet it.

Sunday, 1 January 2012


Welcome all to my first blog post of 2012! I hope you all saw the new year in with style (regardless of whether you remember it or not) and that you’re all now suitably recovered to take on what the next twelve months will bring! I for one watched reruns of ‘Only Fools and Horses’ with Lauz and her dad. We ate spaghetti bolognaise too. It was awesome.

I must admit, last year was pretty good - I graduated, got a job, visited some cool places, took up various new hobbies (including blogging!) and met some great new people – but I want this year to be even better. My goals as they stand for the moment are to travel more, read more, write more and really make it a year to remember, although time will tell how much of that I actually achieve!

In the meantime, I’m keeping nice and busy. The Capri is currently being driven occasionally, although I’m keeping it out of the salt and preparing it for its impending restoration; after a couple of weeks of cutting, welding and spraying it’ll look a lot better I’m sure. In its stead I have decided to join the masses and buy a Mondeo - perhaps the planet’s most boring and uninspiring motor vehicle. It’s quick, it’s warm and it’s comfortable, but it lacks character and just doesn’t conjure up the same joys as cruising around in something with crap suspension, vague steering and near - nonexistent brakes. Nevertheless, it’s proved its worth as a reliable little commuter car, which is all that really matters.

Meanwhile, my work on the Suffolk Regiment is progressing - albeit incredibly slowly. I still need to do some more research at the record office before I can think about so much as even planning it. One day I hope it’ll be finished, although that day is at the end of a very long tunnel. I’ve also been asked recently whether I would consider writing fiction. The short answer is that whenever I consider the idea my mind jumps between different settings, characters and plots before I can get anything down on paper / screen, so for the time being it’s not something I feel capable of doing at all. Still, watch this space as I may post something from time to time which it would be nice to receive feedback about :)

Aside from World War II, you have probably all noticed from your Facebook and Twitter feeds my relentless and unwavering devotion to spamming you with links to my variety of blogs. In fact, you’re probably here due to such a link. If so, thank you for reading this far and rest assured that you will no doubt receive more in the very near future when my newest Netcars and WhatCulture articles are published. Please continue to read and comment on them as it’s informative to know what everyone thinks of my rambling whether the comments are good or bad.

So, now you know what I'm up to, how should I finish this poignant first post of 2012? Well, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and say that I hope that you all achieve everything you aim for and have a fantastic time along the way! As the great philosopher Del Boy Trotter once said, “Never lose sight of your dreams’... or something like that.

Have a good one everybody :)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

QR Codes!

Hey everyone! The first thing I imagine many of you are thinking after the reading the title of this post is ‘what is a QR Code?’

Well, a QR Code is basically a bar code, except made of squares instead of lines, which can be scanned by a smart phone. After it has been scanned it can perform a variety of tasks depending on the information which it has programmed into it. For example, it might create a contact on the user’s phone complete with a name, phone number and e-mail address; it might play a music video or film trailer; or, in the case of the code you can see below, it will take the user to a web address. 

My code has been designed to take users to my Netcars blog and was designed by illustrator and animator Tom Rides. This post is essentially a shout out to him and his awesome work, which you can find examples of on the following sites:

Be sure to check out his work and contact him if you’d like a QR Code for your own site!