Why are Lego sets so expensive these days?

Is Lego becoming an elitist thing?

I absolutely adore Lego but have been really frustrated recently by the expensive sets that they have been releasing. All of their best sets recently have cost hundreds of pounds. Are they trying to price people out of the market? They care clearly trying to target adults, not children.

I am not saying that the sets aren’t worth it – far from it. They look worth every penny. But company seem to have changed tactics slightly, pricing sets at a value that is generally beyond families and aiming at the Lego collectors only.

Here are some examples of Lego sets released in the last couple of years:

Diagon Alley
As a Harry Potter fan, this set is a dream. But at £370 all I will ever do is dream of owning it. Look at that amazing design! Look at all of those minifigures! How is the average person ever going to afford that?

Grand Piano
How class does this look? As a pianist, I would love to have this on display in my house. But at £320, there’s no chance. That’s a deposit towards an actual piano.

Mos Eisley Cantina
This is a classic scene from one of the best childhood films ever. The appeal of the scene in Star Wars was the introduction to all of different characters. And this set recreates it brilliantly with 21 figures. The set costs £320 and so children are not going to be the ones purchasing it!

Hogwarts Castle
Another Wizarding World gem priced at £350! It looks incredible, but we could not afford this one either!

Jurassic Park: T-Rex Ramage
My son would love this for his bedroom. Wait, £220? Never going to happen.

I probably sound bitter because we can’t afford this. And I am! But I also think this is a deliberate strategy by Lego to target adults rather than children with sets that appeal so much to children!

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Marvel Films Ranked

All 23 Marvel films ranked

Since May we have been re-watching all of the Marvel films. They are all just superb and they are so easy to watch.

I have ranked them all from best to worst in terms of how much I enjoyed them – not by how important they are to the series. In term of pure entertainment value.

1 Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1
This is one of the best films ever. It is fun from start to finish. The soundtrack is unbelievable. I think it is also so good because I wasn’t expecting it to be so good. It is a perfect film.

2 Avengers: Endgame
What a film. Somehow they bring back every character to play a part in this. Absolutely amazing!

3 Avengers: Infinity War

4 Spider-man: Homecoming
Tom Holland is just the best Spider-man. What a film!

5 Thor: Ragnarok
This was a film we avoided for a while after we decided that the first two films weren’t great (although much better on a rewatch). Ragnarok is amazing – one of the best!

6 Spider-man: Far From Home
I love how after the magnitude of Endgame, Phase 4 ends on a much smaller scale. It allows the character of Spider-man and Peter Parker to be developed well.


7 Black Panther
We watched this a few days before poor Chadwich Boseman passed away. Somehow it made the film even more impressive.

8 Ant Man
I love Paul Rudd and this was such a classic.

9 Ant Man And The Wasp

10 Captain America: Civil War
Like an Avengers film in a Captain America film. Great!

11 Captain America: Winter Soldier
Far better than the first Captain America film.

12 Iron Man
I love the first Iron Man film and seeing Tony Stark growing from being a cocky individual to a very cocky individual.

13 Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Parts of this are really silly. But I guess that’s the point. More great music and hilarious moments.

14 Avengers Assemble

15 Iron Man 3

16 Captain America: The First Avenger

17 Thor

18 Captain Marvel

19 Iron Man 2

20 Thor: The Dark World

21 Avengers: Age Of Ultron

22 Incredible Hulk

23 Dr Strange
People rave about how good this is. I think they are wrong. Not a fan.

The Rhythm Of The Night

I wanted to describe our recent experience of the Coronavirus world.

On Monday 21st September our youngest started with a cold. After months of barely coming into contact with anyone, it was inevitable that we all would catch colds. We thought nothing of it. That evening our daughter started with a cold as well – again we thought nothing of it.

The following day our daughter was sent home from school because she wasn’t looking well. As her mum works at the school she took her temperature and it was high. Mum, and two children were both sent home straightaway as there were coronavirus symptoms. I phoned and I had to leave work as well. It was time to go into self-isolation until we received a negative result.

It took around six hours before we could finally book a test. The test was the next day in Warrington. Quite a way to travel, but that was the nearer slot. The test is not pleasant. You have to rub the swab on the tonsils right at the back of the throat for 10-15 seconds. You then use the same swab to put up a nostril and swab the inside of the nose for 10-15 seconds as well. You pop the swab into a tube, seal it all and hand it back.

The test took place in a car park. Someone directs you and guides you through the process. It’s all a bit surreal really. But the car park was very quiet and there were maybe 10-20 cars there.

The children’s results came through the next day, in exactly 24 hours. Our daughter’s was negative but our son’s was positive! We were in shock. What we presumed was just a cold was actually the virus. We had to notify the schools where we work, as well as anyone who he had come into contact with at the weekend. Later in the day Test and Trace contacted us and, over a long phone call, they took the details of everyone formally and any places where we had spent time over the eating, e.g. eating out. He had also had a haircut so we had to pass over their details.

The children were doing ok but we could not get their temperatures to stay down, although their cold symptoms gradually began to fade.

My wife’s school asked her to do a test which she did using a postal kit. She received a negative result in three days.

At last weekend I started with a cold and feeling rough and a high temperature started. So I booked another test for Monday. This one was to be in Runcorn. Once again, it was in a car park. There were literally two other cars in there. I received a negative result in 18 hours.

As I am asthmatic, my cold, like typical, started to aggravate my chest and I started with a cough. So a couple of days later I went for a second test – this time in Deeside. (This test centre was something more permanent and so it was like arriving at the scene of a movie.) I was also able to see a doctor but had to drive to the local hospital to do this which was also surreal. I was prescribed steroids and antibiotics. Another negative result arrived later that evening.

So here we are on day 11 of self-isolation. We have had one positive test and the rest of us are negative. The child with a positive test had very mild symptoms. I have had worse symptoms but have tested negative twice. Two schools have been disrupted as we haven’t been able to go into work. Two classes (50 children) at the children’s school were sent home for two weeks and their families were disrupted. One of my son’s friends had to close half of his business down as they needed to take it in turns to stay at home to keep their son at home. My mum, brother, two sisters-in-law, one with a boyfriend and baby all had to stay at home. Friends have been able to do things like shopping and running errands for us. Although I first thought that I might save some money on petrol, I have driven to Warrington, Runcorn, Deeside and Leighton – over 140 miles – for tests and to see a doctor. Massive disruption to our lives and also to our friends’ and family’s lives. We are confused, shocked, fed up, feeling useless and anxious. What a couple of weeks it has been.

We finally get to move back on with our lives on Wednesday.

Being Gluten intolerant pisses me off

Over the last few years I have had problems with my stomach. Nothing sinister, just feeling bad and making me feel unwell. Gradually it was clear that there was a connection to particular foods that I was eating. Since I’ve cut cakes, pastry, biscuits and bread out of my diet I have felt tonnes better! Like unbelievably better! I am currently awaiting tests to find out if I am a coeliac or gluten intolerant or maybe if I have irritable bowel disease. Not ideal, but we’ll see what happens.

But over the last twelve months I have eaten more gluten free and free from foods and it’s time I had a rant about it.

Do you have any idea how bad gluten free food tastes?
Unless you have tried GF bread you will never know how bad it tastes. It is dry, hard to chew and tastes, simply disgusting. I never knew how much bread I ate until I gave it up. And now I’m stuck with GF crap. I tried a GF pork pie today. I was excited to eat it – my first pork pie in ages. Tasteless. So far, the best thing top eat has been GF cakes which apparently can be made to taste nice.
In terms of GF bread, the best bread is made by Warburtons but you are lucky if you can find it!

Do you have any idea how much gluten free food costs?
In my head, when you cut out ingredients and make something taste disgusting, you should be charged less for it, not more. But GF bread comes in loaves half the size of normal bread, and yet costs at least double the price. How can that be? I can buy a pack of Bourbon Creams for about 50p. For the GF equivalents you would pay three times that for about eight biscuits.

It is, frankly, disgusting, charging more just because people have no choice but to buy it.

Do you have any idea how frustrating it is when you call in at a cafe?
We called in at a cafe on Saturday for cake and hot chocolate. There was nothing I could eat. This has happened in other places. People just don’t cater for this market well.

Birthdays? Well, they are ruined.
No more cake! And people seem to think it’s funny that you can’t eat the cake. Yeah, hilarious!

You get pleasantly surprised easily!
Someone mentions that something is gluten free and you are instantly delighted if you hadn’t come across it before. Wow, something else I can eat!

Artisan markets are ruined.
Hi, these look lovely – are they gluten free? Nope.
Sure, they look awkward when they say no, but they actually don’t care.

Gluten Free cooking is hard
How hard can it be to bake GF scones? Well, we have attempted it several times and they look like dwarfed, hideous versions of actual scones. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

I am hopeful that I will only be intolerant but I worry about being totally gluten free and having to give up beer. I have my fingers crossed.

For more on this theme, please see this blog post.

Alan Partridge Ranked

I am a massive fan of Alan Partridge.

Today the new AP podcast series is released on Audible and I cannot wait.

To celebrate its release, I have ranked the Alan Partridge output from least best (there is no worst) to most best (not an actual phrase, but it helps make my point). I’ve not included the Comic Relief specials as they vary so much in quality.

On The Hour
I am not very familiar with this, so it must rank lowest.

The Day Today
This is great – there’s just not enough Partridge!!

Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge (radio)
This is so funny! It’s only so low on the ranking because everything else is so good! Stand out moments include the scene with the child prodigy!

Open Books with Martin Bryce
An underrated classic! I love Partridge’s facial expressions in this!

Alan Partridge’s Scissored Isle
Such a funny documentary. Stand out moments include the supermarket scene (“Do you need any help packing?”) and (“Look, just think about lowering your rates of interest!”.

This Time with Alan Partridge
Partridge’s most recent output gets better and better each time you watch it! My favourite parts are the exchanges with reporter Ruth Duggan. And also Alice Clunt Fluck – I see what I did there.

Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge (TV) + Knowing Me, Knowing Yule with Alan Partridge
This remains a classic! Parts of this are so funny – stand out moments include Roger Moore at Chiswick roundabout and Sprunt!

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Not always rated very highly, this still makes me laugh! It is just easy watching and it is great to see Partridge on the big screen! The soundtrack is also great!

Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of my Life
Pinetree Productions has managed to make something of solid gold here! Welcome To The Places Of My Life is so entertaining! Love it!

Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge
Such a brilliant couple of series – so varied in content. There’s several stand out moments per episode. “Inception” is probably the most quoted!

I, Partridge: We need to talk about Alan
I have read and listened to this book so many times now and yet it still makes me laugh out loud. It is so well written – classic Alan. I love hearing all of the events from I’m Alan Partridge from Alan’s point of view, which of course is never what actually happened.

Alan Partridge: Nomad
I wasn’t sure if they could top I, Partridge, but they have and it is superb! I love the part with his swimming pool dual with the pensioner and the part when he interrupts a live recording of the One Show!

I’m Alan Partridge
It had to be, didn’t it? Twenty-three years since it was first released I still quote lines from I’m Alan Partridge almost on a daily basis. It is still laugh out loud an it still feels up-to-date even after all this time. Just brilliant!

Holiday

We took the gamble and booked a holiday to North Wales. We stayed in Conwy – in a brilliant cottage just on the edge of Conwy, facing the town walls.

We visited Conwy, Llandudno, Rhyl, Beaumaris, Benllech, Bango, Llanfair PG, Caernarfon, Colwyn Bay and Llanberis. It was so good to get a change of scenery. We all had a brilliant time – just what we needed. The absolute highlight of the year!

Due to Covid restrictions we weren’t allowed to go into our holiday home until 5pm. So we decided to book a trip to the Welsh Mountain Zoo for the day. This is a lovely zoo and we always love visiting. After arriving at the holiday home we went to do some shopping. Unfortunately I bumped my car slightly in the supermarket car park. How annoying. We bought chips for tea on the way back.

On the Saturday we went to Caenarfon and Bangor on the Saturday. Neither place was particularly special. Carnarfon was particularly rough. There was some sort of conspiracy rally going on where literally muppet who could hold a microphone was allowed to speak. Nightmare. We called at Penmaenmawr beach on the way back. That night my brother and I went out in Conwy. It was a bit weird with all of the Covid restrictions but we managed to get a drink at a secret beer garden behind a beer shop. It was great!

On the Sunday we stayed in Conwy. My other brother’s family came up to see us and spend the day in Conwy. We had a brilliant time. We went on a boat ride which was good and explored the town and did some crab fishing.

On Monday we went to Llandudno and had a brilliant day there. My third brother and his wife joined us for the day. It was great! We had chips back in Conwy which were great!

On Tuesday we went to meet our little boy’s friend and his family in Rhyl. It gave us something to do as it literally rained all day. We had a meal out, taking advantage of Eat Out To Help Out.

On Wednesday the weather was better. We went to Angelsey. We visited Llanfair PG, Benllech and Beaumaris. Some of our favourite places! That evening we went out for another drink – the pubs were harder to get into that night.

On Thursday we went to Llanberis. We visited the Slate Museum (normally a nice day out, but due to Covid changes it was rubbish this time). We went on a train ride around the lake afterwards which was great. That evening we went on a walk around the town walls which was amazing!

On The Friday it was rubbish weather again, but we spent the morning looking around some shops in Conwy. A nice, relaxed end to the holiday.

Here are some photos from the holiday.

Spelling Mistakes that get my goat

I am a stickler for good spelling. Here are the mistakes that annoy me most.

Defiantly instead of Definitely
This is the one that winds me up more than any other – and it’s probably the one you will see most on Facebook. “I defiantly agree… I am defiantly not going to do that…” This just makes you look like an idiot.

Thankyou instead of Thank you
Yes, it is two words. This one has started creeping in to Facebook and text messages. I don’t know why – have I missed a memo?

Loose instead of Lose
You might think we are going to loose the match but you are still a loser.

Lightening instead of Lightning
Stop being a moron – learn to spell.

Alot instead of A lot
If you care about something a lot, then spell it as two words.

Suprise instead of Surprise
Okay, so you are surprised by how to spell ‘surprise’. That doesn’t mean you should get it wrong.

Best Movie Explosions

Here are some great movie explosions!

Lethal Weapon 3: As a young teenager, this explosion was so impressive. Please ignore the fact they manage to grab a cat and run out of a car park in less than four seconds.
Fricking awesome!!
One of the best scenes from one of the best films. It’s even better when you find out that Heath Ledger improvised parts of it!
A great film. Cheesy dialogue. A great explosion! I feel bad for the guy driving the truck pulling the plane. No one seemed to care about him!
James Bond is so cool.