Just spent a pretty amazing weekend in Wales with my lovely girlfriend.
Driving to Wales is always kinda emotional somehow as I always tie it to being really little and going on holiday with my mum and dad.
There's a million and one memories of those holidays that are special and that I take with me every single day but somehow I always link Wales with arcades.
This weekend I went into loads of amusement arcades and was really shocked at just how much they'd changed.
Back in 1995 I remember seeing the Playstation appear on the end of Gamesmaster on a Thursday tea time and thinking it didn't look real. Here was a home console that could do Ridge Racer as perfect as it was in the local Quasar.
Before that point the arcades were a look at the future while still being rooted firmly in the past.
Any arcade you went into in the 80's/early 90's had the same carpet, the same smokey atmosphere you almost had to swim through and the same local radio station over a crackly speaker system.
Every machine would have a story and every kid walking up and down would be waiting for their opportunity to be the local arcade hero; to be that kid who beat Double Dragon on one credit or that kid who beat M.Bison or part of that team who two manned Crime Fighters or even four manned Gauntlet.
Every single time I stepped into an arcade it was like a home away from home and that's why going on holiday was so special because I loved going away and I loved new things but I was still comforted that, even in a different country, I could walk in an amusement arcade and everything made sense.
The arcades now are clean and 99% of them are full of gambling machines simply because they're the only way that owners can make any money.
We wandered round Llandudno for ages in search of a really old school arcade but, as you might imagine, we were about 15 years too late.
I'm not taking anything away from what was a beautiful time this weekend simply that, as I was driving home, I realised that my life had entered another phase in a lot of respects and that times had changed.
That was, however, until I got home and saw that Sony had uploaded the Golden Axe coin op onto the PS Store. I downloaded it straight away and almost had to stop myself from loading my PS3 full of 20p pieces when it booted up.
Golden Axe was the one machine that my dad used to take me down to Longton to play in the late 80's and a classic example of why Sega made arcades better than anyone else.
The point of all this?
Over the next couple of weeks I'll be making some big changes to address my work/life/mma balance but I'm approaching it with a different mind set; determined to walk forward looking for the next challenge rather than wishing it was yesterday again.
This is about to get really interesting so I only hope that you good people are safe and well and I'll speak to you all soon.