May 5, 2024


The trip was great. I got back on Thursday, tired after a 14-hour flight with two crying babies (they’d be quiet for a while, then one would start to cry, which would set the other one off, and they’d enter a vicious cycle of louder and louder crying until the parents managed to shut them up; I would be totally in favour of banning babies from planes, if you want to take your loud spawn abroad, use a transport mechanism that lets you isolate them, like boats), and have been recovering from the jetlag.

We spent a couple of days in Tokyo while everyone arrived, then a week in Osaka, then another week in Tokyo. I also broke away for one weekend to visit some other friends in Matsuyama.

Here are a few things I noticed:

One day we visited an owl place in Kyoto, leading to my favourite photo of the trip:

A superb owl.

One slight problem I had during the trip was with my finance tracking. I have two bank accounts and had my holiday budget stored in the one that gave me the better exchange rate (and doesn’t change an FX fee), but the other one is where my credit card direct debit comes from, and whenever I paid for things with card I used my credit card. So I had to periodically sweep money from the one account to the other, to put it aside for the credit card liability, but for some reason the credit card transactions were taking 3 or 4 days to appear on my statement which meant I didn’t really know how much I had to sweep until days after the transaction.

This led to an entirely self-imposed problem, in that I have some validation on my finance tracking that raises an error if I spend money on my credit card without—on the same day—putting the same amount of money aside to pay it off. This is normally good, as it effectively forces me to treat my credit card as if I always paid it off instantly, which prevents overspending. But in this case I had the choice of sweeping late (and tripping the validation) or estimating the amount to sweep (and maybe tripping the validation).

I think the way I’d handle this for another trip is to leave a small buffer, say £50, in my main bank account to cover FX-related discrepancies, and to sweep the estimated amount on the same day as the transaction. That should ensure I always have at least enough put aside.


While on planes and trains (but not automobiles) these past few weeks, I read:

All these books were published by Handheld Press. I have a couple of others from them too, and I’ve always been impressed with not just the content, but also the physical quality of the books. Sadly, it looks like Handheld Press is closing down next year, so I’ll have to pick up at least all their fantasy and sci-fi books before then.

Roleplaying Games

The Halls of Arden Vul

Today we resumed the campaign… with a TPK. A bold choice, but hear me out.

Last time, the party split, with half of them stranded in a very dangerous location. This time, we played through all the stranded people dying horribly over the course of three hours. We had:

  • One PC and one NPC get hacked to pieces by serpent-people.
  • One NPC get torn apart by a vengeful ghost.
  • The remaining one PC and four retainers get pummelled into the ground by an animated statue.

I checked in with the players throughout and it was all fine. A relief in a sense, actually, as they’d spent the past three weeks thinking about this bad situation they had found themselves in—and the situation has now been resolved.

Next time we’re picking up an in-game week later, with the other half of the party having assumed the worst and stared recruiting new members.

Then back to exploration. Of some less dangerous places.