Changing world of coffee shop visits

Ok, this is just a general blog post, not focusing on anything to do with online gaming or reviews. Throughout the years – and I do mean years – I have been visiting coffee shops and during that time, technology has had an impact on the places I visit and what I actually do to pass the time there. So I thought I would bore you all stupid and blog about it…enjoy!

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There was a time, when I was younger that I had a real phobia about going outside. When I say real, I mean that it wasn’t just me being anti-socialable or having a dislike of meeting people, I mean that it was real and I had to have support to get over it. One of the ‘tasks’ I had to complete was to venture out, by myself and have a coffee somewhere. This I can safely say was probably the starting point of my enjoyment of coffee shops but over the time I have been visiting them, things have certainly changed.

  • In the beginning – Within primary school teaching you have some time for planning, preparation and assessment. Commonly known as PPA time, this was arranged in a different forms in different schools. Initially this time allowed me to work from home one day a fortnight. Starting to plan at 6:30am I would work until lunchtime and then make myself take a walk to the local shopping centre for a mocha and a cheese and salad baguette! My first shop was BBs Coffee and Muffins!. It was a nice place to have coffee in even though it did have a children’s play area in the back! I would sit never the door (just in case I freaked out and had to leave) and eat and drink people watching in order to take my mind off the simmering panic attack. It was a very good starting point for me, but as soon as the last sip of mocha had been consumed I was out of there – task was complete.

  • Next shop alongIt was after some time that I found out that sadly BBs was closing. It was subsequently replaced by Burger King and finally Game is there. However, a new coffee shop opened next door…and so began my obsession with Starbucks! I’ve gone through many drinks at Starbucks – to start with it was a Mocha – which would actually make me feel ill afterwards (later moving to soya milk sorted this!) through Earl Grey tea and wet cappuccinos to the eventual Soya wet latte that I drink today. Food has moved through regular cheese sandwiches, fruit toast, rocky roads, very berry swirls (no longer available – that was a sad day) to cinnamon swirls. Nowadays I tend just to drink coffee but the food as always been nice and I am sometimes tempted by a cheese and marmite panini if my visit coincides with lunch.

  • Changing activities-My visits to BBs would always be accompanied with people watching, but as I became more confident leaving the house, I started to spend more time in the coffee shops. In order to to this and not look weird, I needed an activity. There was no wifi in those days, so a humble book would be my first choice – often with earphones in without music so I would not be disturbed. Later this progressed to visiting WHSmiths for a computer or photoshop magazine to flick through and actually read – I’m still gradually getting rid – well recycling – numerous magazines from home. I remember once I actually managed to tweet once by using my data package on my Nokia phone! I was concerned all the way home about how much it had cost me! I got my first Starbucks card so I could start to use the wifi within the store and then it was necessary to bring a device with me – initially just my phone, but later a laptop then my ipad and now my macbook. I remember getting stares sometimes when I used to get my laptop out – guess i was a pioneer!

  • Now I am quite set in my ways – soya wet latte (venti of course, anything smaller seems like just a mouthful) and weekend mornings are the best. Macbook out, sat in my favourite seat (wish I could reserve it!) and people watch out the front windows and write my blog posts. I sometimes look back on how nervous I was about sitting in BBs and often amaze myself at the difference. I guess coffee shops have probably changed how I interact with the world – without them I might still be sat in my house all day. Technology has changed what I can do while enjoying the environment here (because I am sat typing this ins Starbucks) and I can only wonder what I will be doing here in ten or twenty years time! Guess that’s the one of the wonders of technology – we never know.

    2 comments for “Let Me In! – Simon’s Cat – YouTube

    1. February 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      Would be cool to play an one off, one of the dungeon crawls you made! Maybe the 8 level one!!!

    2. March 21, 2017 at 12:05 am

      I miss those early days so much. The current state of rpg’s , the rpg xubculture if you like, doesn’t feel like it did back then. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

      I was introduced to Advanced D&D 1st Edition, by my sisters boyfriend (the BEST boyfriend of the many she had IMHO..), who showed me S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks module after discovering I enjoyed computer based adventure games, I was hooked immediately and it wasn’t too long before I was hanging around the local game shop, Games Gallery, from which I was invited to join in a game run by the assistant manager, who was to become my long and good friend Steve, who was coincidentally, the reason I got to work at the local branch of Games Workshop for a time. Working there, in those days, before it became a Warhammer only shop, was amazing. It was the proverbial kid in the sweet shop!. Staff discount made it even sweeter – 50% off GW’s own products, and 25% off everything else. We also ran a great rpg club, with about 60-80 members at its peak.
      I was always the GM for my main group as no one else had the time it took to prepare a game properly, though after a few changes to the group, and people from the club popping up, I eventually got to play. Games by a company called Fantasy Games Unlimited (FGU) were very popular in all of my groups. FGU sold games such as Bushido, Aftermath,Space Opera, Chivalry & Sorcery, Freedom Fighters, and Bunnies & Burrows, but there were many many more games, by many different companies, covering all sorts of genres – and I still have them all. Many were, as was the style back then, table and chart and rule HEAVY. We loved that. Comparing themto the current crop of “rules lite” systems, I would certainly go back to the old games instead. We played these games sometimes 5 days a week, as for a time we were all unemployed. It was all we did.
      I often spent days creating scenarios, making maps, creating player characters as well as npc’s. I found it quite therapeutic, as is miniature painting – thousands of the little buggers packed away testify to the time I spent doing it. My “toy soldiers” as my brother in law calls them…
      I used to get quite attached to my favourite characters, and whilst one or two died over the decades, most did not.
      For almost all of my characters I would go overboard by most people’s standards. I like to have an image for my characters, whether a photo or artwork. Sometimes I will see an image and that is the base for the whole character, built around the image.
      I always believed as a player, that giving the GM a detailed background, list of goals, motivations, friends, contacts and enemies, will help the GM bring my character into the game more, by using some of what I have given him in the game. As a GM I like to see what players come up with for their characters, and will often use it in the game. It involves the player more, makes the game more personal if part of the game is suddenly about them, and it can help the players become more invested in their characters.
      For myself, I would often map out the characters home, create a family tree, siblings, etc.
      For our Star Trek RPG (by FASA Corp), I created the whole crew of a 500+ personnel star ship… All as detailed player characters. Unnecessary and a bit OTT I know, but it helped bring every department on the ship alive, every member of the landing party was a person not simply a red shirt.

      I am often bemused whilst watching streams when I see the gm of a streamed game pull some “new” idea out of his box of tricks, and the players are like “wow!”, “that’s original”, “I would never have thought of doing it that way!”, knowing we did it 30-40 years ago.

      The games my most recent group and I played/ran, were very detailed games with a lot of depth. Quite dark games too, mature themed, and often very emotional and intense. Having played with the same people for nigh on 20 years, you create a bond, a closeness and familiarity that allows you to communicate in a way you couldn’t, with people you don’t know very well.
      I have been brought to tears several times in recent years during the last (decade long) game we played ,as some scenes were simply too emotional or powerful, overwhelming (GM was a bastard – but an EXCELLENT GM).

      Sadly the group folded, but the GM offered to keep the game going for just me, which he did for a few years, which to be honest I really needed, as it helped me through a bad depression at that time).
      Over the years I have experienced a lot of things because of rpg’s, and made some great friends, too. I have a lot to be grateful for, regarding rpg’s. I was discussing with my brother in law, my collection of rpg’s and miniatures. When he realised how much they are worth, (some regularly sell for £100’s!) he always tells me to sell sell sell. He doesn’t grasp what they mean to me .
      Yet I won’t. Part of me hopes and prays that I will get a local group together (even some of the old group!) and start using them again. But aside from that, as my memory fails, little by little each year, these boxes and books and miniatures on the shelves are my constant reminders of happy and sad and exciting moments, and great fun, and more importantly, great friends.

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