Thursday, 6 August 2015

RYKER FROST: Heavy Metal Cowboy is the location of a new blog that will be the home of thoughts on video games and consoles. As stated in the intro most of the YouTubers like Ali-A and Ashlee Mariee are young and enthusiastic - but there are a growing band of  new 'kids' on the block who take a step back and look at what is on offer. So there will be no more articles relating to games and gaming on this blog.
Time for this blog to get back to basics for which it was intended. If you want to follow the games side the link is there

Saturday, 11 July 2015

BATTLE O F BRITAIN 75th Anniversary brings back memories

Where I live now I can stand outside and point through a 360 degree circle and name the locations of the Battle Of Britain airfields. North-west is Gravesend; north-east are Croydon, Kenley and Biggin Hill; to the west are Tangmere, Detling and Headcorn; south and east are Hawkinge, Lyminge and Manston. There are more but yesterday, 10th July was the marked anniversary of the start of the Battle Of Britain.

I sat in my armchair feeling a little lethargic, maybe it was just the heat. Then I heard a sound, faint at first but building - jet engines but not the usual sound made by a passing passenger plane. No, this was a sound that bought a familiar tightness to the gut and set the adrenalin racing. I had never moved so fast - I was out of the back door and almost leaping over the back fence - or was it falling over. Who cares - I was there in time to see a massive contrail blossoming out as nine jets screamed behind the bungalows opposite. Excited, I rushed back inside and dragged my wife outside. Well, the planes had gone and we thought that was that.

It wasn't for no sooner had she gone back inside than the planes came back in diamond formation. I don't know how long it lasted but I stood there mesmerised as I and a neighbour stood outside watching what almost seemed to be a private display by the Red Arrows. Overhead they streamed out with red, white and blue smoke - singly nine aircraft ripped the sky apart.

In doing so this display took me back to the twentieth anniversary of the Battle Of Britain. September 1960 I was with 173 Squadron Air Training Corps based at St. Mary Cray, Orpington, Kent. As such I was part of the Guard Of Honour at R.A.F Biggin Hill. Flights of Hawker Hunters, Gloster Javelins rubbed wings with classics like Spits and Hurricanes.
There I was crisp in uniform, belt whited with blanco; brass gleaming and boots polished to the point that I could see my (exaggeration) face in them. Lee Enfield .303 held at salute as the local dignitaries, Air Commodores and Air Marshalls filed past. But it was the guy at the back with the balding head, hair slicked back and wearing the familiar sports jacket and grey flannels who stumped by who stopped me from looking eyes front. My mouth went dry as one of my heroes went by but not before I saw a mischievous glint in his eye followed by a slight nod. This meeting with the fighter ace Douglas Bader was by no means the end of a magic day.

Later that day I flew for the first time. I was invited by the crew of a Lancaster bomber 'G George' for a quick flight which took us over Orpington. It was noisy and I never realised just how cramped it was. The experience was something else and when I got home my dad said that he had seen the Lancaster fly over the house. Unfortunately, he thought that I was telling a tale.

Twenty one years later I met up with G-George. The Lanc is now housed at the War Museum at the Memorial in Canberra, Australia. And, yes, I got into trouble because I climbed over the barrier to have a good look. After I explained why I had done it I was cautioned not to do it again.

I love the Red Arrows but I do relate more to the planes that flew in the war. Look to the sky and see a Hurricane or a Spitfire and they make me think of a time when the British, Poles, French, Czech, Australian, New Zealanders, Canadian, American (most of them volunteers because the States hadn't entered the war) to name some of the pilot nationalities fought an air war that brought an end to Hitler's plan to invade our island. Amongst these pilots were men like the South African Sailor Malan; Al Deere from Australia and Brits like 'Ginger' Lacey, Richard Hillary, Bob Stanford-Tuck and Douglas Bader
Although I wasn't around for the Battle Of Britain the pilots, the planes and the airfields were a part of my childhood.....just as the sight of Hunters and Javelins were a part of my schooldays (they used to fly over the playground every lunchtime when I was at Warren Road school) and my time with the Air Training Corps.

Friday, 3 July 2015

RED DEAD REDEMPTION: Going Wild For The Western

Still going strong on the games consoles Red Dead Redemption from creators Rockstar is holding its own.

With the recent announcement at E3 that the future of the Xbox One would include backward compatibility that would enable Xbox 360 games to be played on the new generation console - a new voting system has been put in place. Currently, and way out ahead of all other games, Red Dead Redemption is top of the leaderboard.

If gamers are voting this way....then this is a western that is far from dead.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

HUMBER BOY B by Ruth Dugdall

A red trainer falls from the Humber bridge into the water close to where schoolteacher Roger Palmer is fishing. Close by is his daughter, Cheryl, who is bored out of her mind. These are the first to experience the tragedy that follows as the body of 10 year old Noah Watts joins his red trainer. CCTV catches two boys on film who run from the scene with the younger of the two catching the other in an ecstatic embrace.

Two brothers are convicted. Adam, the elder aged 14, is found not guilty of murder but guilty of complicity and receives a four year sentence. On his release he is allowed home to his family. For Ben aged 10 it is a life sentence.

After eight years in various institutions Ben is released and given a new identity. At first life on the outside is strange but with help from the probation service he is found a flat overlooking the Ipswich Marina and a job in the local aquarium where he becomes involved with the manager's family.

However idyllic this might sound his release sparks a Facebook campaign to track him down so that Noah Watts mother, Jessica, can ask that one question - why? And the gutter press are quick to jump on the bandwagon.

Cate Austin, the probation officer, does her best to support Ben despite her involvement with a police officer from Luxembourg and the sudden return of her sister Liz who has a startling revelation for Cate.
For her part Cate is a good person but also human and that leads her into more trouble as she tries hard to do her best for Ben against mounting opposition.

The story of Humber Boy B has several threads - Chapters titled The Day Of backtrack over the events leading to the death of Noah Watts - those titled Now deal with the Facebook campaign while Ben and Cate cover the present - but together build a picture towards the climax.

In her afterword Ruth Dugdall admits that the idea began to form as far back as 2000 when she first started work at a Suffolk prison unit set up for young boys who had committed crimes similar to those described in this book. And through reading this book I guess that the murder of James Bulger would come to mind. Yet there is one scene where Adam sits in court looking all quiet and gullible that suggest his innocence - a scene that reminds me of two young girls sitting in court; one dressed smartly and looking the picture of innocence who was found not guilty of murder while her shabbily dressed friend was found guilty. It is plain and, I think, this book makes it understood that there are no clear cut answers.

Humber Boy B is one read that keeps you on your toes - as with her previous books just as you think you've worked it out Ruth Dugdall throws the perfect curve ball with precision timing.

Ruth Dugdall, who's previous books 'The Woman Before Me' and 'The Sacrificial Man' both feature Cate Austin, will soon be bringing out a new Cate Austen novel 'Nowhere Girl' with a change of setting in Luxembourg.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


Comes The Reaper is the first book in a series about the bounty hunter Jonathan Grimm.

A wagon train leaves Seattle, amongst the migrants looking for a better life is Thomas Jonathan Connor and his young wife. As they cross a snow covered pass they are attacked by a band of Indians. Frightened, the horses bolt and the Connor's wagon slides into oblivion. When Connor recovers he discovers that everyone is dead but there is no sign of his wife. Believing her to be taken by the Indians Connor seeks help from the nearest town but the townspeople are too busy leaving before the Indians attack. Now armed Connor sets out to rescue his wife - which he achieves but it costs her life.

Blaming himself for her death he drifts from job to job until he settles down on his own farm. Although a recluse he allows himself to be dragged off to a hoe-down where he meets his eventual second wife. After a few idyllic years the American Civil War destroys their lives - when a Confederate sergeant called Henderson rapes and kills Connor's wife before burning down the homestead and running off with the stock. Determined on revenge Connor enlists with the Texas Brigade with whom he serves through the war without encountering his quarry.

With the war over Connor finds himself as a 'bodyguard' to Abraham Lincoln and is standing guard at the Ford Theatre when John Wilkes Booth arrives waving an 'invitation' to join the President. Suspected of aiding and abetting the assassin Connor goes on the run and changes his name to Jonathan Grimm - at which point the future path to his life begins.

In 'Comes The Reaper' B. J. Holmes writes the condensed history of a man's life and how several incidents change it forever - but this is a prologue and a journey of discovery before moving on to the rest of the books in the series.

Originally published in 1995 in hardback as a Black Horse Western this series of The Reaper western novels is now available on the Kindle from Piccadilly Publishing.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


The Gears Of War franchise made it's debut on the Xbox 360 back in 2006. It was originally designed by Epic Games for Microsoft who acquired all rights to the franchise in 2014. They have put future development into the hands of The Coalition who are, as announced at E 3, working on Gears Of War 4 which is due to be released in 2016.

Before that The Coalition will release Gears Of War Ultimate Edition for the Xbox One. This will be a revamped, improved version of the original game. And in a first ever on this site I can claim that I have had 'hands on' with the multiplayer. It is still a work in progress and one or two things need improving and they are doing just that. The graphics are really good with a crisp clarity.

Gears Of War is set on an Earth-like planet called Sera. Years of calm have been shattered by a lengthy war between the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) and the Union of Independent Republics over a new discovery of a mass called Immulsion - a material that can replace oil for years to come. Though the COG won the war, the exploration for the Immulsion reserves releases a new threat from the Underworld as the Lambent emerge to destroy everything in their path.
It is Gears Of War we meet the Delta Team of Markus Fenix, Dominic 'Dom' Santiago, Augustus 'The Cole Train' Cole and Damon Baird who embark on their own war against the Lambent.

Gears of War went on to spawn two sequels and a prequel with a story that centred on Damon Baird called Judgement.

A series of books by Karen Traviss have filled in gaps in the storyline and the games have inspired a board game and a series of comics.

Gears Of War Ultimate Edition will be on Xbox One and available to buy from 25th August.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


A short while back we knew that the new Call of Duty game, Black Ops 3, was given a release date of 6th November 2015. Not that we knew much about the game but there you go - and I was there with a fiver in my hand standing at the counter of Game quite happy to book my pre-order. The reason that I was prepared to dive in blind is because I enjoy the franchise.

Just before E 3 we got the first trailer from this Activision/Treyarch game that showed a broken down landscape in the grip of a scientific techno ruled world. It is 2065, 40 years on from the events in Black Ops 2, and the human population live in fear of a robotic takeover.

The soldiers of this future, when wounded or limbs lost, they are replaced by lethal prosthetics - no longer are these men and women discarded.

The campaign gameplay features four player co-op (sounds like the gameplay on Gears Of War 3). Also there are several specialist characters to choose from - there is a Gunsmith section so that weapons can be modified as well the chance to create your own camouflage and apply it to your weapon.

As E 3 progressed the multi-player gameplay was revealed. A couple of new innovations appeared with the abilities to wall run and utilise a boost jump. Someone - or many someone's - will point at 'Titanfall' for similarities. So what? The same was said about the Advanced Warfare multiplayer - so nothing new there then. Hopefully, we won't get adult kids jumping around like they were in the back garden with their kids (thank goodness for the sanity of Classic mode there).
I digress - no multiplayer does look good and the XP earned comes from multi-tasking.

The Zombie games come in a story mode and multiplayer but to be honest I know next to nothing about this side of the game. In fact it is a mode that passes me by.

Black Ops 3 will come out for the PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360.