Another Year of Birthday Reflections…
Every year, I’ve tended to write a quick post on 6th February just briefly reflecting, since today is my birthday! If you’re interested, you can find last year’s one here. This one technically marks me being an adult, which feels incredibly strange and scary! There’s not really much which I have to say this year, but there’s two thoughts on my mind which I felt were worth sharing.
The first which I wanted to express is sheer gratitude. I’ve never really celebrated birthdays much, but a couple of friends helped make this year’s feel extremely memorable and special. It feels very odd using the term “childhood”, but I really do feel extremely lucky to have had such a fortunate one, with wonderful people and experiences. A lot of that stems from this little penguin world, this blog, and all of you who follow it – thank you!
The other thing which I wanted to say is that, if you were like me when many years younger, you tend to think that you’ll have some idea of what you’ll be doing by the time you reach this stage. Reaching it now, I’ve realised that probably won’t be the case – and that’s okay! This is the year where I officially end school, and I’m still not exactly sure that I have any clue what I’m doing…
Thank you very much to everyone who has stuck around and read this blog, whether you’ve been around for a long time or only briefly! I really appreciate it.
Back to School!
It’s a bit of an annual tradition for me to publish a post wishing people well as school returns, and this year contains no exception – if you’re returning to school or education soon, I want to dedicate this message to you and wish you a massive good luck!
The year ahead might bring a range of challenges and stresses, not helped by the coronavirus pandemic, but I wish you the best of luck in overcoming them. Over the summer, amid some of the incredibly sad global stories on the news, I’ve also been reflecting about how fortunate I have been to enjoy a stable education. Although I recognise it can never be possible to generalise, and education may have been very different experience for many since the pandemic began, I hope that the year ahead still holds so many more enjoyable moments for you.
Appeal for Afghanistan
This post is going to be a little unrelated from Club Penguin. As you may be aware, the current situation in Afghanistan has been absolutely heart-breaking for so many people involved.
It’s easy to feel very helpless in this situation, and it’s certainly extremely upsetting. One of the charities providing support on the ground in terms of basic necessities is being maintained the family of former British minister Rory Stewart, who has been doing some absolutely fantastic in running a local charity for over a decade.
I have never tried using Club Penguin Mountains as a platform for fundraising before, but in this desperate situation, every donation can make a difference. Therefore, if you’re able to and with parental oversight, please consider donating if possible. I can also confirm that all revenue generated this month by Club Penguin Mountains until next week, before the fundraiser ends, will be donated to this charity.
As a little incentive beyond the help which you can provide, if you’re willing to donate and provide your mailing address, I’d be happy to send you a signed postcard in the post. In order to do this:
- Donate at least £5 (GBP) or your currency’s equivalent at the official link below – this is roughly about $7 (USD)
- Check your email inbox for a confirmation message after you donate; it contains no personal details beyond your name
- Forward that email, alongside your mailing address, to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will mail you a signed postcard
This is my first time trying something like this, but I hope that it can make a difference and raise even a few funds for those suffering. Although I am obviously hesitant to promote this on a Club Penguin blog, I think it’s the right thing to do. If you can’t donate though – that’s completely okay!
Birthday Reflections & Soul-Searching
Although it’s probably a little unnecessary and outdated, it’s been a little bit of a tradition to write a short post each year on February 6th, since today is my birthday! If you’re interested, you can find last year’s one here. It’s quite remarkable what’s happened since then.
There isn’t really too much which I wanted to say beyond acknowledging this day, and my usual annual ruminations. For me, the last few weeks and months have certainly involved much reflection, perhaps even soul-searching, especially as I grow older. Part of that is probably natural curiosity about the future and what I’ll be doing, and the rest might just be a wonder about a wider purpose.
It’s funny; two weeks ago, somebody whose name you’d probably recognise asked me why I still play Club Penguin. That’s something which I’ve often wondered myself, and I suppose that part of the reason is that craving for purpose often translates itself into a retreat to creative output, and blogging is a measurable way of satisfying that. I remember having this internal discussion with myself several years ago, and it feels like that’s become more substantive in recent times, particularly with “life-changing” decisions needing to soon be made.
I’ve never really celebrated birthdays much, and although my friends help made today a little special, it does make me wonder what the future will hold and what the aim is. Perhaps that’ll remain a mystery for some time, but until then, I think it’s just important to focus on what you enjoy.
Back to school…again!
It’s difficult, in a way, to know how to write this post. Each year, at around this time, I usually publish a quick post wishing people well in regards to school returning. But unlike previous years, education for the foreseeable future is certainly going to be very different; if you’re like me, or most other students in the United Kingdom, you’ll probably be returning to a physical building with lots of social distancing precautions. Many others may be shifting to online learning with daily calls and classes – imagine predicting that in last year’s post!
It’s understandable to be nervous about it too – I go back tomorrow, and I certainly am! Perhaps it’s new faces, lessons, new buildings, or even just precautions after months away from school. It took me a couple of weeks to settle in last time, and it’s completely okay if that’s the same for you, even if the return to school is something you’ve been looking forward to! I suspect that most emotions now will be fluctuating between excitement and nervousness, and that’s understandable – that’s why it’s so much tricker to write this one!
The last few months have had their ups and downs for everyone, and I’ve definitely not been an exception to that. It’s okay if you didn’t achieve everything that you may have hoped to – as dramatic or horrible as it may seem, just surviving it is something to be genuinely proud of. But in regards to the next few months ahead: good luck, stay safe, and enjoy it all you can – for all of schools’ challenges and stresses, of which there are many, I hope that the last few months have helped you discover aspects that you appreciate more.
As for the update on this blog, at the start of this year, I estimated that this would probably be my last year blogging. For the last few months, even though I’ve lost most interest in the actual game, I’ve been delaying that decision until September. I’ve never quite framed it in this way before: I joined Club Penguin just under a decade ago, aged really young. Since then, through some string of fate, I became increasingly active in the community, starting with Penguin Lodge chat to social media, and by some chain of coincidence, managed to start this blog and met a handful of wonderful people who have really helped keep me sane over the last few months.
Regrettably, it is my belief that those chains of coincidences have almost run out – people will generally recognise that the “closer community” has been fading for a while. I’m not sure what Club Penguin holds next, but on that decision, it feels better to be upfront: while it wouldn’t be right to lay out a precise timetable, any decision would probably be when I’m completely comfortable and certain, rather than just one for the sake of “waddling on” when I genuinely enjoy blogging.
I’ll conclude on those chains of coincidences: we may never fully understand them, but good luck, people and memories come randomly. I’ve had a lot of good fortune in this community, and for all its challenges, I couldn’t imagine going through this lockdown without that. The next stage with schools re-opening will bring their own struggles, but I hope that you’ll be able to get through them too!
Best of luck,
Living in Lockdown
I’ll start by prefixing this post with a disclaimer that the content of this post isn’t really related to penguins at all. There is precedence for this kind of post though! Some people may remember another fan-blog from a few years ago called Club Penguin Memories, and more specifically, a series there called “Trainman1405 in Real Life”. Even when I was younger, I was always appreciative of the raw honesty that was conveyed in those posts.
The majority of this post will relate to my personal experience, but it feels wrong not to acknowledge the deadly nature of a pandemic, and the tragic inevitability regarding loss of life. I’ve been fortunate (?) enough that I’ve only experienced that sharp and deep grief just once – incidentally, exactly six years ago today – but such days remain permanently seared in your memory. I can still recall that morning vividly: the Saturday soccer game at primary school, the tears, the phone calls and the flowers. My deepest sympathies and condolences extend to anyone suffering through something similar now.
Something more likely to be impacting people are the effects of each country’s lockdown. As Alastair Campbell put it, coping with those effects is a challenge which every single person around the world is simultaneously facing at the same time, and that’s predominantly why I’ve wanted to write this post for a while.
It’s been 17 weeks since the British government took the necessary decision to close schools in England to stop the spread of coronavirus. By that time, that decision was almost predictable, and the instant reaction to the confirmation of schools closing by the Prime Minister in his 5pm press conference was relief.
Since then, like thousands across the country, I’ve received no schoolwork and had practically no contact with my teachers, and consequently, I suspect that I’m not the only one either to slip into having practically no routine beyond waking up at a reasonable time. The hardest question (maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but one of them at least…) posed to me so far has been “what have you been doing for the last few months?”.
My answer tends to be paraphrased lyric from a popular Prince song:
Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing but different than the day before-Prince, Raspberry Beret (1985)
Because, for me at least, that’s the reality; it’s true that I’ve coded a lot, from websites such as a random coronavirus slogan generator to a variety of things on WordPress.com, and tried to do so daily, while also watching a lot of documentaries, working on this blog, and accidentally rewatching every episode of some cartoons, Yes Minister, and old mermaid shows.
But for me, filling time has probably been the biggest challenge, along with the occasional loneliness. I suspect that for many in our community, the uncertainty at the end of May, amplified by Disney’s intervention and what felt like the opening of Pandora’s Box, made that time even rougher. But in truth, the waves of sadness are much more…random. For me, they tend to be days in which I don’t even open the curtains, and more frequently, probably end up doing nothing.
I recognise that I’ve been banging on about this for months, and it’s been on this blog’s home page slider, but I genuinely fear for the hidden impact the last few months have had on people – my questioning of “how are you” has increased significantly as a result. I sincerely hope the kind-of waves of sadness aren’t prevalent for you in these times. If they are, I wish you well. A lack of routine for months can thwart close to anyone, and though I’ve certainly been fortunate in the sense that I’ve been pretty comfortable, that desire for something more normal has been especially strong lately.
Equally though, as hopeful as I am that things will slowly start to revert to normal, I won’t deny being awake at 3am wondering whether the re-opening of schools won’t be the magic bullet that I sometimes imagine it to be; you tend to look back more fondly on times once they’ve passed, and in my case, though I’m looking forward to things, I do think back to the winter night before my French writing exam where I had broken down in tears outside a supermarket due to school issues, and you do wonder if things will work out. But although lockdown has provided much time for reflection, it’s important to stay optimistic: things can only get better, right? It’s just a matter of hoping for the best in the things that we are powerless over, while also maintaining gratitude for the positive things now.
I recognise that the thousands of people reading this blog each day will primarily be seeking uplifting content, so this is a pretty significant change to that, and not one that will happen regularly! But if this post contributes in bringing solace to even a few individuals going through a rough time in reminding them that these are challenging months, helps in digesting the random and wild thoughts which lots of people are having, or just makes someone ask another person how they’re feeling, it’s worth it.
Introducing a New Theme
Welcome to the new Club Penguin Mountains!
The decision to change themes is one of the most agonising for a blogger. Finding a perfect theme is tricky, and Harmonic, the previous theme, has been a remarkable theme. It’s been used on this blog since January 2017, but it’s time for it to be replaced. I wanted to quickly explain why!
The reasoning is a combination between the desire for change, but primarily that it’s been retired for several years now; for example, it contains a feature called Skrollr that’s hopelessly outdated for modern browsers, and was causing several issues scrolling on mobile. When I first announced the theme switch, mobile support was the primary reason behind it. This is a modern theme that enhances that support.
The new theme is Ashe! Immediately, you’ll probably notice the slider that will be updated regularly so you can immediately see the main news on the island. Distributing information as quickly as possible is the key aim of this change, which is why you’ll also see a message on the top of every page as to whether mascots are online (though it needs refreshing to update). This feature is still in progress though, so may have some issues. A few other changes have been made too, such as with some mascot trackers!
I should note two things. Firstly, this theme is temporary; after two years, whatever happens then, there’ll probably be a switch back to the old theme! Secondly, this shouldn’t be perceived as a reflection of my commitment to the game. Instead, I’m simply just using a new theme as I’m now able to!
Plenty of changes can still be made, and I really hope that you like the new design – if you have any feedback, especially criticisms, please let me know! Thank you!
Thank you for five million views!
Where do I begin? Five million views! I still vividly remember how exciting it was to receive 500 views, then 5000, then 50K…but 5 million?! Breaking each milestone is always an amazing surprise for me, especially since I’ve really never expected this, particularly six years ago.
But whilst I’m amazed, and whilst me six years ago would’ve been incredibly shocked if told this would happen, the thing which I really want to do is just express my gratitude. This wouldn’t be possible without you, and I appreciate you all reading. 💜
Equally, my gratitude extends to all of those who made this site possible. Many of those people from over half a decade ago are long gone from the community, but the history of many Club Penguin fan-blogs is always a fascinating one.
I don’t know how much of the journey is left, the last six and a bit years have been amazing, but however long it is, I’m truly grateful to everyone for making this possible and so fun.
Screenhog’s Anniversary Livestream
As I’m sure you’re aware, today is Club Penguin’s 14th Anniversary, and as always, there’s a lot going on as a result! Jet Pack Guy and Sensei have already visited Club Penguin Rewritten with new backgrounds today, and Aunt Arctic is confirmed to return.
However, something a little different is ongoing soon. At 21:00BST/16:00EST, Screenhog will be streaming! In case you’re unfamiliar with him, he is the original Club Penguin artist and had a huge role in the game.
Update: at the time of writing, the stream is ongoing and it’s great fun – Screenhog is playing some classic tunes, many from Club Penguin!
The livestream will be available above, and in it, Screenhog intends to play some music and answer questions, and it should just be an enjoyable time.
Be sure to check it out!
Screenhog’s Club Penguin Facts
Screenhog has released a new video on Club Penguin! This time, it features ten facts about the game. Some of them may be familiar, but many of them are not, and they even include some exclusive artwork, such of the atrocity of the first puffle.
If you’re interested, I’d highly recommend watching it!
If you’re not interested, please enjoy the original puffle design which was featured in the video above. 👻
In all seriousness though, it’s really amazing to see how puffles, something we’re all so familiar with, have progressed since the initial concept. All that and more is featured in Screenhog’s video, so I’d highly recommend giving it a watch!
Thank you for reading, waddle on!