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March 12th, 2010

Apologies to those friends who may have already read this first part, I searched back on my personal journal to use this piece. Lazy blogger, I know, slap me later.)

"When I was a very little girl, I suffered from having to sit at the front of the class, simply so I could see the blackboard. The teachers knew I wasn't stupid, and expected the level of work that I gave. Sometimes I struggled. In Welsh classes for example - it was enough to put me off learning it for life, although I'm now a little sad about this fact. Mostly, though, it wasn't a problem. In fact, aside from my grandmother insisting I shouldn't do this because of my eyes-and that didn't kick in until I was about 7-8, I didn't know any better. Ignorance really was bliss.

The house we lived in had a seemingly long garden, which backed onto a private hospital and nursing home, and was separated from such by a high wall and tall trees. I remember the sycamore trees very well, We used to have to uproot the numerous sycamore saplings each year. Sometimes they were replanted elsewhere. I remember the garden clearly too. It had a path, a lawn, roses that smelt as roses should, and their petals were burgandy velvet. It had a crumbling dry stone wall to the one side, a haven for spiders and woodlice, and snails, minute cave systems for the imagination. There was a bird table too, I think my father had made it, always adorned with strings of peanuts and breadcrumbs and water, and we used to watch it in winter. A siskin landed there once, and my mother was quite delighted. A blackbird would perch on one of the tall trees at the end of the garden and sing to its heart's content. The quince tree housed spider webs and the concrete edges to the path were the boundaries of ant kingdoms. It was an imaginative child's paradise.

When I was eight, I was prescribed my first ever pair of glasses. Plastic pink NHS glasses, vile ones when I think back to it. I remember how strange my eyes felt when I tried them on. The clearest memory I have of them, and one that will always stay with me, was that of putting them on, and looking out of the kitchen window and down the garden. I could see, quite clearly, the leaves on the trees. For the first time. I knew they were there, obviously, but to actually look at the trees from the house and see the leaves clearly....that was something else again.

I lost my ignorance. A whole new world opened up to me, and I saw things in ways I'd not seen them before. For a while I wandered around my little world, lost, oblivious to all except the new experiences, the new messages that my optic nerves were sending to my brain. It was good."

I was inspired to write that entry in my personal blog after some serious pc and monitor upgrading. I was still playing LotRO at the time, on a 15 inch monitor, and was suffering the sort of stop start lag in 24 man raids that would have impressed Ray Harryhausen even in the lowest of the low resolutions with every single setting that could possibly be adjusted turned down. Rem apologised to me when he realised exactly what I'd been working with, he'd not realised I was limited by the hardware -  the fact that I'd done so much with that sort of handicap shocked him! And it tells me that it's still possible to play well, even when your equipment is naff....

So why did this inspire my recollection? Quite simply, LotRO is a beautiful game aesthetically. I mean, not just beautiful, but exquisite. I've spent evenings simply taking in the scenery, I bought a character house simply for the astoundingly beautiful view.

And that was on low res.

Then I got the upgrade. I played on the highest resolution - and bang. I was suddenly back to being eight, standing in the back garden, seeing the leaves properly for the first time. For the next few weeks, I rode around Middle Earth oohing and ahhing, and frothing at every little detail. We revisited the places we'd already visited, I saw the Balrog in its full fiery glory for the first time,  everything was new and shiny. Rem kept laughing at our reactions (Colt had also upgraded his, and was experiencing a similar effect).

It was the same game. But it was the same game refreshed and vibrant and I fell in love with it all over again.

So, you may ask, what inspired this post about an inspired post? Fair question....

It was watching people discover the delights of playing Alliance and their reactions to the details they'd not seen previously. Details they'd been unable to see due to playing Horde. Details others had missed out on by being hardcore. And that made me think about my own little baby Hordie, and how I'd been running around in Orgrimmar, oohing and wowing. It made me think....

I guess sometimes all it needs is someone to hand you a metaphorical pair of NHS glasses. And then you get to see an entirely new garden.