Today we spent most of our time checking out Preston’s new board game cafe, Dice & Donuts. Partially funded through a kickstarter campaign, and opening its doors last November, Dice & Donuts seems to have got off to a great start.
A few days ago we visited a new Escape Game company who have opened their doors in Bury. Trapped In currently have two games available to play, Air Traffic Control, and Time Machine. Games are available for up to six players, and the costs are pretty much the same as most other Manchester based companies.
We decided to start off with the easier of the two rooms, and work our way up, so we began with Air Traffic Control, rated three out of five stars in difficulty. Despite all six of us having played escape games before, we didn’t half muck this one up. We became fixated on one clue, convinced we were on the right track, when we were completely wrong, and wasted a lot of time. THEN we accidentally solved the final clue and escaped with 29 minutes to go. So, once we realised we had not actually solved the clues properly, we went back in, pretended that last bit never happened, and carried on……
Last night I made my third visit to Escape Rooms in Manchester, and fourth overall, if you count my visit to the Preston Site. Escape Rooms, especially the Manchester site, seems to be becoming one of my favourite Escape Game companies to visit. It’s getting to the point now where it’s not just about the awesome games they produce, but it’s the little extra things, like chatting with the staff, who are always excellent at this site.
Last weekend we travelled to UCLAN in Preston to play Watch the Skies, and full on interactive, role playing, pervasive game of strategy, politics and war. Think Risk, with aliens, acted out in real life. Sort of.
After over 6 hours of game play, we had an amazing time, we think we might have won, and we still have no idea how we did it!
First us up, we were playing as Saudi Arabia, so despite some resistance from unsure members of the team, we arrived, and promptly secured tea towels to our heads. We weren’t the only team to put the effort in, the French team could be spotted by their berets, and were often seen wandering around with baguettes, many military players could be spotted in various camo gear, and a variety of lab coats could be seen on the science officers as they attended their conferences.
Last night saw the launch of the 2015 Manchester Science Festival. Held at the iconic Museum of Science & Industry. On arrival we immediately knew that the organisers were going all out to bring us non stop science for the event, with event the canapes forming part of an experiment.
First up we took part in the Kandinsky Effect, where we were given 3 versions of a canape with the exact same ingredients, but presented in different ways. The idea was to see if the visual representation of a food can enhance our taste experience. The canape was made with oyster, radish, verjuice, mouli & beetroot, so not only did I start my evening with an experiment, but I had my first taste of oyster!
Next up we took part in some taste tests, in which we were given samples of different fruit juices, but each was the wrong colour. It’s amazing how just a simple change in perception can cause such confusion. The first drink, an almost black colour, I immediately identified as orange juice, but the next two had me stumped! It turns out that lime and lemon juice are very difficult to identify when coloured blue and green…..
We also sampled some guilty pleasure foods. Strangely enough, I found that mixing pickle into peanut butter made it more pleasant, but I doubt I’ll ever get on board with salted crisps and chocolate milk. I just don’t do mushy!
After taking part in a few fun experiments we headed over to the main stage for the grand opening of the festival. Introduced by Marieke Navin, Director of the Manchester Science Festival, we see how they aim to introduce a programme which puts creative and quality science engagement across the city, embedding science as part of normal culture. The festival also launches Manchester as the European City of Science, a huge opportunity to show off Manchester on the world stage, through to the Science Festival’s 10th anniversary next year.
Next up is Sally MacDonald, Director of the Museum of Science and Industry, who tells us more about the Cravings Experiments. It turns out that the canapes have been specially curated by Mary-Ellen McTague, an award winning Manchester chef. We also learn about the photo booth where you can tell the world what you will create, tell, share or join over the next 12 months as part of a year long celebration of science. Huge thanks also went out to the sponsors, Siemens, University of Salford, Electricity North West & Waters.
We didn’t have our picture taken during the night, I’ll have to think carefully about what I want to give to the festival. Hopefully I’ll have chance to return to the booth and make my promise for getting involved over the next year.
After the speeches we had chance to take part in the second of the Cravings Experiments, in which four different canapes were sampled, and each was rates as either bouba or kiki. When we went to the board to add our opinions, we were surprised to see how similar people seemed to rate these foods in these made up ways.
To finish up our night we had the pleasure of watching Gastronaut Stefan Gates on stage with an abundance of mini experiments to show off the sort of extravaganza we can expect throughout the festival this year. From painting our tongues blue, creating an earthquake, firing strawberry flavoured vortex donuts at the audience and smelling cheese, we were given a fantastic show. Stefan is also running Cravings Late on Wednesday the 28th November, which we’re gutted we’re not able to attend, but would definitely recommend you watch if you can!
We can’t wait for this year’s Science Festival, and we’ll be back on the 22nd for a viewing of three highlights of the festival, Evaporation, Cravings: Can your food control you? and JUMP IN!
We’ve also managed to bag ourselves tickets for The Infinite Monkey Cage with Professor Brian Cox that evening, so we’re certainly looking forward to an amazing time at the Manchester Science Festival 2015!
I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone reading this blog that we love to try new, interesting and unusual things, so we’re always on the look out for new events to check out.
Our most recent venture has taken us into the world if the Murder Mystery evening. We’ve wanted to do something like this as a review for a while, and so were very pleased when we found Laugh and Let Die, a local company who graciously invited us down to one of their events.
We decided to pop down the road to Salford Grosvenor Casino for Blood on the Fairway, a golf themed Murder Mystery evening complete with 2 course meal.
The Casino was a nice venue for the evening, we had a private room for the event, but were free to wander around the rest of the casino before and after, although being none gamblers, other than our free roulette bet (which we lost) we didn’t take part in any of the tables.
While waiting for the evening to start, we got chatting with some of the other guests, and slowly the actors started to appear, and began mingling with the guests.
This was a nice way to introduce the characters as you got to have a little chat with each one before the evening was officially underway. The characters were great, all just enough over the top to make them great fun, and it was good to see all the actors staying within character for the whole evening.
- Goldie Falcon is the owner and Lady Captain of the Glen Falcon Golf Club, and she has invited you here to the prize evening for her departed husband Glen Falcon, who died a year ago to the day.
- Woody Tiggs is the Golf Club’s pro golfer, instructor, and Goldie’s fiance. We heard he was a womaniser, and we suspect the rumours are true!
- Beatrice Ware is the Club cleaner, and Goldie’s PA. She’s a bit over friendly with the boys, and we suspect something may be going on between her and Woody during her golf ‘lessons’.
- Betty Turnip is the Bar Manager, and sister of Goldie’s departed husband Glen. She blames Goldie for his death, which isn’t surprising, considering he died due to a golf club to the head, as it ‘slipped’ from her hands.
- Lastly, we have Donald Montie, the Club’s groundskeeper, who refuses to let anyone see what he’s growing in his ‘potting’ shed…..
Once the evening began, the actors began to play out the story, when suddenly, Bea Ware begins to choke! Next thing you know she’s dead, and the evening is ruined by a gruesome murder.
Enter Sergeant Hamish Bacon, who needs help solving the murder, and we’re all made deputies for the evening, allowing us to interrogate the suspects throughout the evening. We’re also helped by trainee police woman Pam de Caur, a dopey but lovable police officer who is eager to help out and earn her badge.
I think it’s also worth mentioning, that PC Bacon is played by Rob Ireland, who is also live and Let Die’s Creative Director and writes all the story lines!
Dinner is served, and in between courses we are shown new evidence which may have come to light, and are given the chance to interrogate the suspects as a group. Firstly, I think it’s worth mentioning that the food was lovely. Between us we sampled the half grilled chicken and Singapore noodles, and the New York cheesecake and chocolate torte. Everything tasted amazing, and the bar was reasonably priced too (soft drinks free, wuhoo!)
Dinner was served a little late, it looked like there was a delay of about 30 minutes at the beginning of the night, but they did apologise for the delay, kept us thoroughly entertained throughout, and the food was worth the wait anyway!
After a bunch of opportunities to interrogate the suspects, we’re given the opportunity to write down;
The buggar that done it
And the reason that buggar done it
Once everyone had made their guesses, the suspects are all brought out, and the murderer is revealed!
Each new piece of evidence hinted at a possible motive for one of the suspects, and it was up to us to use the evidence to deduce who the murderer was. By the end of the night, I’m not sure how we could have used the evidence to work out who the culprit was, but it sure was fun giving them a hard time with our questions! I do wish we had a bit more time to interact with them all, but there was a lot of people to get around, and they did a great job at trying to spread themselves across all the guests equally.
The best bit about the evening was definitely the fun factor. All the actors were brilliant, although Pam was definitely our favourite, played by Kelly Diver, and she kept us ‘dying’ with laughter throughout the event. All the actors have to work really hard to stay in character and improvise while we throw them the most unexpected questions, and they do so magnificently!
The company has some great themed events coming up, with Most Spooked, and A Sting in the Tale for Halloween, and A Twisted Christmas Carol and Slay Bells Ring for the festive season.
We would definitely recommend Laugh and Let Die for a fun filled comedy Murder Mystery evening. We had a brilliant time, and can’t wait to go again!
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Escape Rooms Manchester, and just when I thought I was about to get board of them, I realised just how elaborate and fantastic these games could be. Having visited Escape Rooms Manchester twice now, it’s firmly becoming one of my favourite Escape Game companies.
So when I found out that they were soon to be opening another site in Preston, I was really excited to see what they had come up with. I was most excited to look at their new rooms, as knowing that Escape Rooms has a dedicated R&D team who work tirelessly on developing new games, I knew that I would be impressed with their new games.
It’s strange when arriving at Escape Rooms Preston how different the atmosphere is to Manchester. As the Manchester site is set in a converted nightclub, it lends itself very well to stag and hen parties, and corporate events. Preston however has a much more laid back feel, the lack of a bar doesn’t hinder the venue, and an amazing decision to bring in a Manchester graffiti artist just 2 days prior to the launch was a very good decision indeed.
The result is a cool, converted warehouse feel, perfect for students (which is a very good move considering Preston is a student town) but refurbished so well it doesn’t feel like a budget conversion. In this way Escape Rooms have managed to create the perfect combination of student and professional in one setting.
There are three new rooms at Preston, and two which we have seen before at Manchester.
The Mummy is Preston’s only 3 star room, with Prison Break & The Gallery set at 4 stars, and Vampire Chronicles and Taken being the most difficult with 5 stars each.
We played the Taken room, which I was very excited about. Joined by an extra two teammates, the six of us were thrust into the room with the usual hour to solve the puzzles and ultimately escape.
The premise of Taken, is;
The boss’s daughter has been abducted and taken for ransom by a mob, consisting of internationally wanted criminals. The authorities have gathered the information needed to pinpoint the place where she is held captive, and you have been entrusted with her safe and immediate return. Now, with time running out, you find yourself in a life and death race against the clock as the abduction begins to spiral towards a terrifying and deadly conclusion. You have 60 minutes to utilize the tools and skills within your disposal to rescue the boss’s daughter and getaway before the kidnappers return.
We absolutely loved this room, it had a great setup, fantastic puzzles, and a bit of physical activity required (not a lot, but enough to introduce a great new logic puzzle). The decor and props were great, but we wouldn’t expect anything less from Escape Rooms, and we stormed the room in just 24 minutes! I would like to take full credit for this, but our two extra team members I think contributed a lot towards our swift exit time, and it was lovely to have them on our team.
We’re confident that Escape Rooms will be a great success in Preston, and we hope that we’ll be able to go back soon. I certainly have my eye on the Vampire Chronicles room….. And not just that, but looks like the Birmingham site will be coming soon, followed by more sites in Leeds & Liverpool!
I was recently contacted about a new dating site being launched in the UK, especially designed for Star Trek fans. With the plethora of dating sites cropping up in today’s digital age, would this unique and quirky concept help TrekDating.com stand out from the crown and become a break out success.
On the 28th July, in London, TrekDating.com was launched in the UK, and aimed to help single Star Trek fans find love.
Already boasting a global user base in territories including the USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, the number one dating website for Star Trek fans allows users to register for free and instantly begin uploading images and sending winks to other users.
A full membership option, costing £25 per month, allows users to filter their searches by location, age and interests as well as create a more personalised profiles with video content, dating diaries and access to your dating inbox containing all of your sent and received messages.
Founder and Managing Director, Jonathan Bird says:
The Star Trek community is vast but many are looking for love. With TrekDating.com we have created a place for Star Trek fans to come together, quote their favourite lines and meet other singles who share their love of the Starship Enterprise and all things Trekkie.
So if you are looking for a partner that’s passionate about Spock, and isn’t afraid to go with you at Warp Speed then TrekDating.com is the dating site for you!
We’re also looking for someone to help us out by putting TrekDating to the test with a free trial. If you would like to give TrekDating a go, and are prepared to tell us all about it, then get in touch!
Last night I had the pleasure of re-visiting Escape Rooms UK to play another of their amazing escape games. I last visited Escape Rooms in February at their launch, and suffice to say I was very impressed.
Just to re-iterate, the best thing about Escape Rooms is the level of professionalism you get from the staff and venue. The production values are definitely a step up from your average escape game, and this is why they ended up in joint first place on my ‘Which Escape Game is Best‘ piece.
As expected we received a very warm welcome at reception, put our bags and coats in the cloakroom and settled down in the bar area for a pre-game drink and some sweets! Being set in an old night club, the facilities are very good in comparison to other escape games, with plenty of comfy seating, a fully stocked bar, good toilets and even a nice outdoor area.
This time we got to play Room 13, which is the one room I had been dying to come back and try since we were given a sneaky peak at our last visit. Room 13 is another 5 star difficulty room, but this time we had a team of four, so we were more confident that we would do well.
Room 13 is a really good game to play. There are some great effects and the puzzles were fun but challenging. As always, I can never go into too much detail on the game itself, as it would ruin it for anyone yet to play. But I will say that any fan of The Shining will love this game!
Unfortunately the hint system still involves someone physically coming into the room to help, and I really wish that Escape Rooms would find another way to do this, as it really does have you lose momentum and affects the whole atmosphere of the game. I still think that this is the only thing letting down Escape Rooms.
We also managed to escape with just 3 minutes remaining, but we only had one hint, so overall it was a really good game, and I would highly recommend this room to any escape game fan.
We’re also really excited to learn that Escape Rooms are branching out and will soon be opening in Preston, with another site in Birmingham to follow! So watch out for a review of the new Preston site coming soon!
Saturday the 20th June 2015 saw over 400 Ingress Agents descend on Liverpool for the Persepolis Anomaly.
The Persepolis Anomaly ran from the 30th May to the 20th June, and I was lucky enough to have a Satellite event held close to home. My first Anomaly was Helios in Manchester last year, and to be honest we haven’t actually played much since then.
I love anomalies because I love how it brings hundreds of players together for a common goal. I enjoy being a part of something bigger, and it’s something that the Enlightened in the UK are particularly good at. I’ve found that the reason we do well during anomalies in the UK is generally because we have an amazing leadership team, who take the time to organise us and put our tactics into place. By the time it reaches game day we all know what we’re doing, and we work very well as a team, something which I do not see as well reflected in the Resistance.
There have been two anomalies in between Helios and Persepolis that I wasn’t able to attend. Darsana ran October to December 2014, but did not come to the UK, and Shonin ran February to March 2015, and did come to Cardiff, but we couldn’t make it.
Once again we were split into teams and allocated a team leader to guide us on the day. I didn’t know if I would know anyone on my team prior to the event, but that doesn’t matter. I had again arranged for us all to meet early for breakfast so we could get to know each other a bit before the event kicked off, and after we headed to the meeting point we of course had our obligatory team photo before the big group photo was taken.
Once that was all over and done with we headed off to our first location. Tactics since Helios had changed slightly, so as well as trying to control portals we were also going to try and link from them, as this time around links are worth a lot of points. But other than that, tactics were very similar. As we are still not level 8, we were in charge of ensuring the portals were shielded at all times, but in between shielding we would also help deploy resonators and recharge existing ones.
Previously at Helios the we also switched to bursting when we lost control of the portal, but Persepolis was no where near as hectic, and we only lost the portal very briefly on just a few occasions. In fact we held our portals so well, I rarely had to deploy resonators, instead only needed to switch to recharging as they were being attacked.
I think that the change in requirements this time is a real credit to our leaders and organisation. There were times, especially during the 3rd measurement when we didn’t even need to recharge the portal. The attacks had stopped, and the Resistance had just given up. They were not as organised as us and their leaders had not provided sufficient instructions on how to handle the fight, so they became lost and defeated long before the anomaly was over.
This difference was again reflected in the scores. Whilst during Helios Manchester our score was double that of the Resistance, for Persepolis our score was triple that of the Resistance! Considering all of Liverpool spent 2 measurements under a blanket of green thanks to one of the Enlightened tactical teams, it wasn’t surprising that combined with our organisation and teamwork we won Persepolis Liverpool by a massive 529 points!
Final scores came in around 3am that morning, and unfortunately it was an overall win for the Resistance, but only by 429 points! Overall the Resistance have won all anomalies so far, but up here in the North of the UK, the Enlightened are still the superior faction when it comes to Anomalies.
Massive thank you again to the Enlightened leaders who made this all possible, and once again, if you would like to join me in the battle against the Resistance and join the Manchester Enlighted, then join our group here, say hi, have some cake, and join the fun!