For the last two weeks, our two booklets (now aged 19 and almost 16) have been talking a lot about this whole pokemon go thing.
It's been lovely for two reasons.
One, over the past year or so, they actually haven't been bonding very well (B19 is oblivious to this problem which is, of course, part of the problem), however pokemon go has become a thing that has brought them together again. It's a tad competitive as they compare how many pokemon they have, their combat power (CP) and what rare ones they've managed to catch, but they're talking nicely to each other and they seem to enjoy sharing their tips and hints and adventures with each other.
Two, in the middle of our recent winter school holidays, when it turned really cold, B16 spent several hours each day, outside, walking and exploring our local area in an attempt to catch more pokemon. He still can't tell me the names of any of the local parks, despite visiting them several times for pokestops, but he at least knows that all these little parks now exist!
Over the past two weeks there has been lots of social media coverage (good and bad) about the pokemon go phenomenon. During the week, a young customer in our bookshop, caught two pokemon. Her excitement was contagious and we had a lovely chat about how many, what kinds and where.
So this weekend I decided to find out for myself what all the fuss was about.
B19 gave me a quick lesson on how to catch pokemon and what all the various symbols and icons in the app meant.
With this little bit of knowledge, a healthy dose of scepticism and a little bit of embarrassment, I headed off into the wilds of Balmain yesterday to find me some pokemon!
My first couple of captures used up several balls, but once I got the hang of it, it was easy.
Pokemon with high CP are good if you want to do a battle in a pokemon gym. There are about four or five gyms in my suburb.
On my first pokemon walk though, I didn't have enough pokemon or a high enough level to do anything with the gyms.
After 45 mins, I came home with about 12 pokemon in my bag and a stack of balls up my sleeve!
Later on in the afternoon, we had to do a trip to the airport. Mr Books was driving - lets be clear about that upfront! After seeing a few people in the street catching pokemon, I wondered if you could also catch pokemon in the car. Turns out you can!
There was quite a bit of traffic on the road to the airport and we weren't moving very fast - I not only stocked up on loads of pokeballs and other icons, but I also caught quite a few pokemon.
On Sundays, I walked to B16's soccer game. It's an hour walk around the bay - the perfect way to spend a wintry Sunday afternoon. Today I also caught a few pokemon along the way.
I learnt that the higher the CP value of the pokemon, the harder it is to actually catch them. Several of today's captures actually had to be caught two or three times before they stayed caught!
I also saw lots of families with young children and small groups of tweenies walking and cycling around together capturing pokemon.
I learnt that there are no pokespots in schools or in front of people's homes.
When B16 learnt that I had been pokemoning this weekend, he was thrilled. He asked to see what I had caught and was impressed that I had caught a rare-ish Electabuzz. He explained about lures and showed me that there was one just around the corner.
We looked at each other, quickly put on our shoes and headed off into the cold wintry evening to catch more pokemon.
A lure, lures rarer pokemons to a certain area for half an hour. We caught a couple before the lure vanished.
We decided to keep walking to see what we could see.
And this is the main reason why I love pokemon go.
For the first time in months, B16 and I spent a wonderful, relaxed, easy hour together. We walked and talked and explored. We laughed and bonded and caught stacks of pokemon together.
I learnt that before they released the app, pokemon sent out teams of photographers around the world to take photos of all the plaques, signs and monuments that feature in the pokestops. And I levelled up enough to join a team. B16 and I are now on the same team :-)
We had a lovely evening. And we plan to do it again tomorrow after we finish work and school.
Once upon a time, families sat around the dinner table playing card games and scrabble and monopoly together.
Now, if you play your cards right, you can now spend time having the same kind of fun with your modern teenagers by playing pokemon go together.
And you can get some exercise together at the same time.
(Updates & new information about the game stats are included in the comments below.)