Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stuart's Panoramic World 5 - Malvern Link Railway Station

Another 360° panorama - Malvern Link railway station.  Located on the Cotswold Line, and which is served by both First Great Western, and London Midland trains.

I use this station whenever I go to visit the Malvern Hills.

Can you spot Kieran?

Use your mouse (or cursor keys) to look.  Your mouse wheel allows you to zoom in and out.

Location : Malvern Link Railway Station

Date : 16th March 2011

Camera : Fujifilm S6000FD

Notes :
Railway station located on the Cotswold Line, in Worcestershire.

Download/Enlarge : Click here to enlarge 


Stuart's Panoramic World 4 - Upminster Railway Station

Another 360 panoramic photo - Upminster Railway Station, a National Rail interchange, linking c2c with the London Underground (District Line), and Greater Anglia services to Romford.

The station was originally opened in 1885 as part of the London, Tilbury and Southend line.

Use your mouse (or cursor keys) to look.  Your mouse wheel allows you to zoom in and out.

Location : Upminster Railway Station - Essex, UK

Date : 19th February l 2011

Camera : Fujifilm S6000FD

Notes :
Station used by c2c and tne London Underground

Download/Enlarge : Click here to enlarge 


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Games that remind me of my childhood Number 18 : Formula One Grand Prix (Commodore Amiga)

If I can blame my below average GCSE results on someone (other than myself), then it would have to be Geoff Crammond.  Why I hear you ask?  Because he made the amazing Formula One Grand Prix on the Commodore Amiga!

For my first Amiga game that reminds me of my childhood, I bring you this wonderful title, from the creator of some of my favourite Commodore 64 games (namely, The Sentinel, and Stunt Car Racer).

Riding at the back of the pack with Stuart Wilson!
During study leave at school, I spent countless hours playing this with my friend Philip when I should have been revising for my exams.  It was without a doubt one of the best, and most realistic racing games on the Amiga, featuring detailed and very fast polygon graphics.  In fact, the game ran amazingly fast on a stock A500, although later on I was lucky enough to get a GVP A530 Turbo accelerator, turning my Amiga 500 from 7mhz into 40mhz.  This game ran super fast! 

Customise your racers and teams.
Featuring the sixteen grand prix tracks from the 1991 Grand Prix season, the game was not officially affiliated with the FiA which means that although the car liveries and driver helmets were accurate, none of the drivers were real people and were all fictional.  This was great though because the game gave you the option of naming the drivers and teams yourself.  We had great fun naming the racers after people at school, or famous celebrities.

Each track has an excellent image which you can view and plan your race

Along with practice mode, qualifying and single races, players could also take part in a full season.  The game did allow for more than one player using a unique system that allowed each player to play on their own before the computer took over the car, thus allowing the next person to take control of their car.  A novel idea, but very annoying if your car crashed or span out of control when under control from the computer!

Spinning out of control

F1GP (as it was known) also had to ability to play the game from different camera angles – a feature not seen in many racing games on the Amiga.  Interior and external views were available, and trackside cameras were positioned around the track so that replays could be viewed from almost any angle.  All great stuff.

About to overtake.
The game was simple to get in to thanks to some great features including “brake assistance”, “steering help”, “damage on/off” and “throttle assistance”.  These could be enabled or disabled using the function keys.  Some of these made the game too easy, but at least the option was there to turn them off for a much tougher experience.

View from behind - note the white 'guide' lines on the road.  These could be turned off.
I love this game.  I’m not really that interested in Formula One racing, but this game was fantastic.  Geoff Crammond made several sequels after this, and although graphically they are far superior, the original was and always will be the best. 

External view
AND, it was always fun to race round the track the wrong way, smashing in to the computer controlled cars.  Once they had all been smashed and taken out of the race, I could then turn around and finish the race, knowing I would win because I was the only car on the track!

The famous Monaco track, in all its polygonal beauty.

The box

The box

Friday, January 18, 2013

Games that remind me of my childhood Number 17 : Manic Miner (Commodore 64)

Working in a school has its benefits - namely an increased chance of having a "snow day" after a small shower of the white stuff.  This has meant that I have had a day off work, which has given me plenty of time to play some retro games whilst the children are out in the back garden, throwing snowballs at Mum...
Anyway, one game I have been playing today is a classic that I am sure you all know.
Ask anyone my age to name the first level of this game, and I'm sure the majority will immediately answer "Central Cavern"!
I suspect that anyone who had an 8-bit computer in the 1980's probably had (or heard of) Manic Miner.  Released in 1983 and originally programmed by the very talented Matthew Smith, it was the first game to feature Miner Willy.  Willy of course would re-appear in several sequels, namely the Jet Set Willy series of games.
The game is your simple platform affair.  You control Miner Willy, and must negotiate each of the twenty caverns, collecting all of the flashing objects before Willy's oxygen runs out.  Once all objects have been collected, a flashing portal appears which then allows Willy to move on to the next level.

Numerous enemies stand in your way, namely Poisonous Pansies, Spiders, Slime and Manic Mining Robots!  Willy can also die if he falls too far, meaning that many jumps need to be done with perfect precision.
Many afternoons after school were spent playing this gem of a game, and it's still great to play today, although I still find some of the later levels near impossible!

The cover

The tape

The map (Click to enlarge)


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stuart's Panoramic World 3 - Broadway Tower

Another 360 panoramic photo - this time, it's Broadway Tower, a folly not too far from where I live.  It was quite a miserable day, but I was able to take some pleasant pictures of this fascinating building.  I must return in the spring/summer.

Use your mouse (or cursor keys) to look.  Your mouse wheel allows you to zoom in and out.

Location : Broadway Tower

Date : Sunday 13th January 2013

Camera : Fujifilm HS30 EXR

Notes :
A dull, cold January day.

Download/Enlarge : Click here to enlarge 



Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Games that remind me of my childhood Number 16 : Video Meanies (Commodore Plus 4)

I was going to post something about this mornings The Mirror's ridiculous article about computer games increasing the risk of cancer in children, but instead of just angering myself even more about such utter nonsense I am going to post my next "Games that remind me of my childhood".
Behold...   Video Meanies for the Commodore 16 and Plus 4

Mastertronic games were always hit or miss.  For £1.99 it could either be a turd of a game which you would never play again, or a gem which would keep you entertained for many hours.  Fortunately Video Meanies falls under the former.

The game is yet another classic by Tony Kelly (Squirm, Big Mac) and is in my opinion another fine example of a Commodore 16/Plus 4 game being better than its Commodore 64 counterpart.

Getting to the video on this screen means letting out four meanies.  Not as easy as it looks

Released 27 years ago, the game has you control a robot and you must negotiate 24 rooms of the castle, turning off all the videos whilst avoiding the Meanies that populate each room.  At least, that's what the instructions say.  They don't make games with stories like that anymore!

Avoid the laser beams

Fortunately you can shoot the Meanies, but they re-appear after a few seconds.  Invisible barriers, laser beams and deadly white walls which kill you when you touch them are just some of the dangers within the castle.  Also, you must locate keys which unlock doors, allowing you to explore even further.

As you turn the videos off, a jigsaw puzzle is revealed at the top of the screen. Once you have turned off the videos and collected all of the puzzle pieces, the game is over.

You need to find a key to open the door

One of the things that stood out about this game for me was its sound effects.  The TED chip on the Plus 4 was inferior to the C64's SID chip, but the sounds in this game are amazing.  Even the simple one-voice tune on the start screen is a jolly little ditty which I still hum even to this day!

Interesting fact is that the game was apparently going to be called Video Nasty, as shown by the early screenshots on the back cover of the game inlay.  I guess they never updated them when the game was finally published.

Instructions, complete with cheats hand-written by my Dad!

The tape.

The game map - Click to enlarge

Gosh, I really love this game!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Stuart's Panoramic World 2 - London, Regents Park Underground Station

Another 3D panorama for you to explore.  This time, Regents Park station on the London Underground!

Use your mouse (or cursor keys) to look.  Your mouse wheel allows you to zoom in and out.

Location : London - Regents Park Underground Station

Date : 28th April 2011

Camera : Fujifilm S6000FD

Notes :
Typical station on the London Underground Network

Download/Enlarge : Click here to enlarge 


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Stuart's Panoramic World 1 - Laindon, Five Links Estate

I'm going to start yet another new regular feature here on the Captain's Blog.  I plan to merge my "Stuart Wilson's Panoramic World" website with this blog, so expect to find some interactive 3D panoramas popping up here every now and then for you to look at.
I love 3D panoramas as they are a wonderful way of preserving a single point in time, allowing the user to see all around, as if they are actually standing there.  In fact, I am amazed there are not more of them available on the web considering that most cameras and mobile phones have the ability to take these photos now. 
Consider these to be ones that the Google Street View camera can't reach!

Use your mouse (or cursor keys) to look.  Your mouse wheel allows you to zoom in and out.

Location : Laindon, Essex, England

Date : 3rd January 2013

Camera : Fujifilm HS30 EXR

Notes : Five Links Estate (Handley Green - Now Beeston Courts).  My old home.

Download/Enlarge : Click here to enlarge 


Saturday, January 05, 2013

Star Trek Music To My Ears

Well, well, well...  Looks like Father Christmas has been to the Wilson household again, and supplied me with a lovely copy of  "Star Trek - The Original Series Soundtrack Collection".  15 CD's of pure 60's Trekkie heaven, featuring over 600 tracks from the original Star Trek series, most of which have never been released before. 

Yes, I'm a geek...  Yes, I love my soundtracks...  Yes, I love my Star Trek soundtracks even more.  Alexander Courage, George Duning, Jerry Fielding, Gerald Fried, Sol Kaplan, Samuel Matlovsky, Joseph Mullendore and Fred Steiner have all never sounded so great!

It's actually made me have a look at my ever expanding soundtrack collection, and write down here what I have. 

(I can blame my friend Steven Ready for getting me into movie soundtracks!)

28 Days Later
28 Weeks Later
A View To A Kill
Air Force One
Airwolf Themes
Alien 3
Alien Resurrection
Alien Vs. Predator - Requiem
Aliens - Deluxe Edition
Aliens (Complete)
Apollo 13 (Promo)
Assault on Precinct 13
Bablyon 5 - Severed Dreams
Babylon 5
Babylon 5 - A Late Delivery from Avalon
Babylon 5 - And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place
Babylon 5 - Best of Christopher Franke
Babylon 5 - Chrysalis
Babylon 5 - Coming of Shadows
Babylon 5 - Face of the Enemy
Babylon 5 - Falling Towards Apotheosis
Babylon 5 - In the Beginning
Babylon 5 - Interludes and Examinations
Babylon 5 - Into the Fire
Babylon 5 - Lines of Communication
Babylon 5 - No Surrender, No Retreat
Babylon 5 - Ragged Edge
Babylon 5 - River of Souls
Babylon 5 - Shadow Dancing
Babylon 5 - The Fall of Night
Babylon 5 - The Long Night
Babylon 5 - Thirdspace
Babylon 5 - Walkabout
Babylon 5 - War Without End, Part 1
Babylon 5 - War Without End, Part 2
Babylon 5 - Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi
Babylon 5 - Z'ha Dum
Babylon 5 Volume 2 - Messages from Earth
Back To The Future
Back To The Future II
Back To The Future III
Back to Titanic
Batman Forever
Battle Beyond The Stars
Battlestar Galactica
Beauty and the Beast (this one is for Kayleigh and Sophie... honest!)
Beneath The Planet of the Apes
Biggles - Adventures in Time
Bill & Ted Collection
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Buck Rogers (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Call of Duty 1
Call of Duty 2 Original Soundtrack
Call of Duty 3 Limited Edition Soundtrack
Cannonball Run
Cars 2
Casino Royale
Casino Royale - 1967
Conan - Ultimate Edition
Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Destroyer
Conan the Destroyer - Extended Soundtrack
Dawn Of The Dead
Dawn of the Dead - Goblin - Daemonia
Dawn Of The Dead - The Complete 1978 Soundtrack
Dawn of the Dead (Goblin)
Dawn Of The Dead Remake
Day Of The Dead 2002
Deep Rising
Demolition Man
Diamonds Are Forever
Die Another Day
Doctor Who - A Christmas Carol
Doctor Who - The Movie
Doctor Who & The Daleks
Doctor Who 25th Anniversary Album
Doctor Who Season 1 & 2
Doctor Who Season 3
Doctor Who Season 4
Doctor Who Series 4 - The Specials
Doctor Who Series 5
Doctor Who Series 6
Dr No
Earth - Final Conflict
Enemy Mine
Escape From The Planet of the Apes
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections
Flash Gordon
For You Eyes Only
From Russia With Love
Galaxy Quest
Gladiator- More Music From the Motion Picture
Hellraiser 2- Hellbound
Hellraiser 4- Bloodline (Original Soundtrack)
Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
Hot Shots! Part Deux
Howard the Duck
I Am Legend
Independance Day (Expanded)
Independence Day
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Extended)
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark - Complete
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom (Expanded)
Innerspace - Extended Soundtrack
King Kong
Knight Rider
Land Of The Giants
Licence To Kill
Live And Let Die
Logan's Run
Lost In Space
Lost World Game Soundtrack
Madagascar 2 - Escape 2 Africa
Masters Of The Universe
MDK Soundtrack
Medal of Honor - Frontline
Medal Of Honor Soundtrack
Monkey Island 3 Soundtrack
Monster's Inc
Moonraker (Expanded)
Mr. Bean's Holiday
Muppet Movie
Never Say Never Again
Next Generations - Best Of Science Fiction
Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Poltergeist 2
Poseidon Adventure
Quantum Leap
Quantum Of Solace
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raise the Titanic
Rambo - First Blood
Rambo - First Blood Part II
Resident Evil - Orchestra Soundtrack
Robocop - Extended Soundtrack
RoboCop 2
Rocky IV
SeaQuest DSV
Short Circuit
Space Above and Beyond
Spacehunter - Adventures in the Forbidden Zone
Species II
Star Trek 2009
Star Trek - Deep Space Nine
Star Trek - Deep Space Nine Boxset 1
Star Trek - Deep Space Nine Boxset 2
Star Trek - Enterprise
Star Trek - First Contact
Star Trek - First Contact (Expanded)
Star Trek - First Contact (Limited Edition)
Star Trek - Generations
Star Trek - Generations Expanded
Star Trek - Insurrection
Star Trek - Insurrection - Expanded Score
Star Trek - Insurrection (Expanded)
Star Trek - Nemesis
Star Trek - Sound Effects from the Original TV Soundtrack
Star Trek - Starfleet Academy
Star Trek - Symphonic Suites, Vol. 1
Star Trek - Symphonic Suites, Vol. 2
Star Trek - The Best of Star Trek 30th Anniversary Special
Star Trek - The Best of Star Trek, Vol. 2
Star Trek - The Motion Picture
Star Trek - The Motion Picture - Expanded Soundtrack
Star Trek - The Motion Picture - Ilia's Theme (Solo Piano Version)
Star Trek - The Motion Picture 20th Anniversary Collectors Edition
Star Trek - The Next Generation - Face of the Enemy
Star Trek - The Next Generation - The Ron Jones Project (14 CDs)
Star Trek - The Next Generation Collection Disk 1
Star Trek - The Next Generation Collection Disk 2
Star Trek - The Next Generation Collection Disk 3
Star Trek - The Next Generation 'Encounter At Farpoint'
Star Trek - The Next Generation Vol IV
Star Trek - The Next Generation, Vol. 2 - 'The Best of Both Worlds' Pts. I & II
Star Trek - The Next Generation, Vol. 3
Star Trek - Voyager
Star Trek 2009 - (Expanded Score)
Star Trek 2 - The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek 2 - The Wrath of Khan Expanded Soundtrack
Star Trek 3 - The Search for Spock
Star Trek 3 - The Search For Spock Expanded Soundtrack
Star Trek 4 - The Voyage Home
Star Trek 4 - The Voyage Home Expanded Soundtrack
Star Trek 5 - The Final Frontier
Star Trek 5 - The Final Frontier Expanded Soundtrack
Star Trek 6 - The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek 6 - The Undiscovered Country (Expanded)
Star Trek Enterprise - In A Mirror, Darkly
Star Trek Movie Sound FX
Star Trek Original Series Collection (15 CDs)
Star Trek Sound FX 1
Star Trek Sound FX 2
Star Trek Sound FX 3
Star Trek TV Soundtrack, Vol. 1
Star Trek TV Soundtrack, Vol. 2
Star Trek - Voyager
Star Trek Voyager - Elite Force
Star Trek, Vol. 1 - The Cage-Where No Man Has Gone Before
Star Trek, Vol. 2 - Doomsday Machine - Amok Time
Star Trek, Vol. 3 - Shore Leave-The Naked Time
Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars - Shadows of the Empire
Star Wars - The Attack Of The Clones
Star Wars - The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Trilogy- The Original Soundtrack Anthology Disc 1
Star Wars Trilogy- The Original Soundtrack Anthology Disc 2
Star Wars Trilogy- The Original Soundtrack Anthology Disc 3
Star Wars Trilogy- The Original Soundtrack Anthology Disc 4
Stargate - The Deluxe Edition
Stargate Continuum
Stargate SG-1
Stargate SG1 - The Best of Stargate SG1
Stargate The Ark of Truth
Starship Troopers
Starship Troopers - Complete - OST
Starship Troopers 3
Starship Troopers Promo CD
Superman II
Symphonic Star Trek
Terminator 2- Judgment Day
Terrahawks Original Television Soundtrack
The Abyss
The Burbs
The Day After Tomorrow
The Goonies
The Goonies - 25th Anniversary Edition
The Last Starfighter
The Living Daylights
The Man With The Golden Gun
The Mummy
The Mummy Returns
The Music Of Star Trek
The Omega Man
The Polar Express
The Postman
The Running Man
The Secret of Monkey Island - Special Edition
The Spy Who Loved Me
The Terminator
The Terminator - The Definitive Edition
The Thing - OST
The Time Machine
The Time Machine - Original
The Time Machine - Promo
The Time Tunnel
The World Is Not Enough
Three Amigos!
Tomorrow Never Dies
Top Gun
Total Recall - Deluxe Edition
Toy Soldiers
Toy Story 2
Tron Legacy
Uncharted - Drake's Fortune
Uncharted 3 - Drake's Deception
Wing Commander
You Only Live Twice
Young Sherlock Holmes

It works out to be about 10,762 individual tracks.  Some are soundtracks from computer games, but most are from films.  Infact, if I was to add all computer game/soundtracks to the list as well (I have quite a few not listed here), the number of tracks would be 13,157.  Just a couple of weeks worth of listening material!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Wilson's Randomness - Daz Prescott

Bit of a random posting today...

Why is it, whenever I see the Daz advert on TV (the one with Daley Thompson), I always think the guy at the end who is about to jump in to the swimming pool looks like John Prescott!

Is it just me?
Told you it was random!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Shoppers Paradise

And so completes the first trip of 2013 to Chavtastic Basildon Town Centre.  Long gone are the halcyon days when one could pop into Bas and spend a fortune on budget £1.99 games in Software Plus (where QD is now, before it moved into the Eastgate Centre by the bus-stop), or spend an entire afternoon perusing through Star Trek memorabilia and comics in The Cartoon Shop (is it still open and if so, does John still run it?) without the risk of getting mugged, or abuse shouted at you by some rude pensioner with a chip on their shoulder.

Instead, the only enjoyment these days is watching mobs of tracksuit-clad youth (with their tracksuit bottoms tucked into their socks) ogling at what they can spend their dole money on in Cash Converters.

Oh... and playing "Spot the Newly Opened Pound Shop" game.  A fun way to entertain three bored children whilst they wait for their reward for being patient...  a trip to Toys R Us!

Still, I can't complain.  Basildonia, offers so much more than Evesham in terms of shopping variety.  That's not to say it's any good though - It's as hard to spend money in Bas as it is in Evesham.

AND, I am very proud of myself - I drove up and parked in a multi-storey car park today for the first time.  GO ME!  Over two years of driving, and I've never experienced the delights of driving to the top up until now.  Still not as fun as getting squashed by a boxed Aquavax in the back of Steve Ready's Dads car while going up the twisting multi-storey at speed in to Eastgate back in '86 - bloody hell, has it really been 27 years!

I'm living the dream.

Also...  What's this?  Three posts in as many days!

(a reminder to all that Basildon has not always been a chav-filled, pound shoppers paradise)
EDIT : Before anyone starts whinging at me, I would just like to add that I am not dissing Basildon.  Far from it.  Basildon was, and always will be my first home.  My views and opinions are only that of an outsider of the town, and are based on observations which I have made during our many visits to the area each year.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


Nothing beats seeing in the New Year back home in Laindon, and going for a pleasant stroll along the seafront at Leigh-on-Sea with my son, Kieran.

Shame everybody else had the same idea and went too!  I don't think I've ever seen it so busy, even during the Summer.  It was still nice though.

Oh well, two more days, and then we're back off 'home' to Evesham.  Feeling a bit miserable to be honest.  I really miss it here.  I suppose it's a combination of having to return to Evesham, and to the usual stress of work, and stuff.

  (Kieran, my world)