How Do You Get Pikachu on a Bus? You Pokemon! It’s #PokemonGo

Are you aged between 29 – 39? Do you have a smartphone? If the answer to both of these is yes, then thank you for taking the time to read this instead of playing.

Sorry? Did you just ask what am I playing??! Although not officially released in the UK yet, I’m playing a bizarre online augmented reality game called Pokemon Go!

Remember this little dude?

Now, imagine that you had a pokeball only it was your phone… and then you saw a version of Google maps that helped you locate your Pokemon…. and when you found one you saw it augmented over an image (using your phone camera) of where you actually are. And there you have it – the 90s teenager version of Ingress. Same premise, cuter graphics, more addictive because you’re collecting cute stuff. 

The clever idea behind these augmented reality apps is that they encourage slothernly “teenagers” to walk & explore the local area (devs, the kids aren’t playing. Hello from the over 30s club). And it’s working. My Facebook feed is full of friends posting about going out walking just to capture more pixels… but what if you can’t?

I saw a number of tweets on launch day suggesting that the app is ableist as it encourages you to walk. I don’t wholly buy into that, but I am looking at ways that I can play without the walking bit…

1. Get out on wheels

Fair play to those who are walking, but some of us need a bit more help with mobility. As an alternative, I tested out playing whilst in the back of my work taxi on my way home. I captured a few, but drove past the training posts waaaay to quickly to use them (no. I didn’t ask to stop – I have a shred of dignity left). Potentially we could also start exploring with me in my wheelchair. This is a limited option locally as my ability to self propel on any camber or incline is crappy at best & the local pavements are so poorly maintained and cause enough jolting to take me out for days after a few minutes. (I did invite our local councillor to come for a walk with me… as yet no response). There are places however, with reasonably flat pavements without the cracks & dodgy drop curbs that we could explore.

2. Stick to places I go anyway

This sort of defeats the object. I would then be restricted to collecting at home (actually, not bad), at work (whooaah unprofessional), and at the “gym” (by gym, I mean pool where I bob about until the indignity of using the ducking stool has worn off, then sit in the warm bubbles massaging my back).

Oh, and Tesco. Maybe I’ll find a raikou in the knickers!

3. Invent an Accessible Life hack

Part of losing my mobility has been channelling all of my creativity into finding alternative ways to just do shit anyway. 

Can’t type – shout at ipad. Can’t stand – sit & be louder. Can’t swim – strap float to chest and paddle like a broken turtle. Can’t walk – get wheels. Can’t run– wheelchair racing. You get the idea…

So, what about combining “trips out” for the kids with collecting? We make it a family game. We drive somewhere, I collect what I can, then challenge the kids to collect as many as they can…. the only down side to this being trusting the kids with my phone 🤔.

Ultimately, I’ve been waiting for this game for more moons than I cared to admit to. And OMFG I want the wearble! Just look at it! Loooooooook!

So after all the hype, I refuse to adult over this. I’m bloody well going to play. Even if I have to find a solution to this walking crap. I need to – I have a feeling they’ll be some “friendly  competition” at EGX this year 🕹🖲🎮

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I’m Just a Little Black Raincloud (who won’t do her homework)

It’s been a Sunday. We’ve built up a bit of a routine here. Sunday morning is Homework Morning. I have planning to do for the week ahead and it’s the optimum time for BeanPole to address her 2 hours or less of ‘home learning’.

So this morning we started at 8.30. I sat and in between ranting at her for her lack of any productivity, I spent 4 hours creating an array of worksheets, test papers and death by PowerPoint for my lucky lucky students. BeanPole stropped, sighed loudly, scribbled, doodled, and when this did not have the desired effect cried, sobbed, and snotted on her homework sheets (did I mention, she has a mild cold that is putting her at imminent risk of death? The rest of us have the sniffles.). Eventually, my mum ushered her up to their room where she used mum’s desk to actually do her work before I throttled her. Seriously, how hard is it for a G&T 8 year old to write a list of adjectives and ten sentences?! She has a reading age of 13! It took her THREE HOURS.

LSH and I are holding onto the fact that eventually, the more we push the regular time for homework thing, the easier the habit will be and we won’t be having this screaming match with her when she gets daily homework at high school. We’re in denial. Please don’t let this continue for the next 10 years.

My head hurt and being a believer in fresh air, we headed out for a walk. We went to the one place where our family walks MUST take place every autumn!

Back in 2006…

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And then again today…

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Same tree, same family. This is affectionately known as ‘our tree’ – it’s looked like it’s on it’s last legs for years. I love this place. It’s where The Gruffalo used to live when they were diddy. Now it’s a playground for survival camps and catching weird wildlife.

It’s always nice to witness IT Consultant in outside of his natural environment (yes, iPhone in hand, but he was just geotagging the walk….)

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The walk was lovely, and as hoped did all of us a lot of good. The kids when combined with mud, instantly forgot their germy moaning. There was no bickering. Just squishing through the woods with the occasional rushing into the bushes with cries of “I’m Bear Grylls!!”.

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We found things hopping around (thankfully, Miss Grylls decided that eating the frog wasn’t on the agenda).

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As we walked conifers conkers (argh autocorrect!!) were discovered and collected.

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And we collected a bag of sweet chestnuts which have been stored for roasting later on during the week. (Get us foraging for food!)

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Throughout the walk we found a variety of mushrooms – generally unidentified, but very pretty (wont be eating them!).

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Finally, it was back home to make the final bits of the roast ham dinner that had been sitting in the slow cooker in brown sugar for the past 5 hours contemplating its fate. And a resounding success with the Yorkshire puddings! Extra eggs in the batter. Who knew!

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And the cat agreed, we’ve ended the weekend rather relaxed!

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Fresh air. Curing all ills from homework tantrums, to the common cold!