Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Board Games, but not as you know it

Have I mentioned I love games? I mean board games. You are probably going to think of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and Risk here and the games I play look kinda like that and do have some similarities with them sometimes. They sometimes have a board, not always. They sometimes have dice, sometimes cards etc. The games I like are part of a huge, huge resurgence in board games which is a really lovely and social hobby. There are tens of thousands of board games on every single theme and with every difficulty level.

Think about Monopoly - there are no real choices. You land on something, if you have the money, you buy it and you try to trade it later if you don't need it. That's pretty much complete chance down to the dice roles. The board games I play all have MEANINGFUL DECISIONS. This is really important because you are the master of your own destiny and there are generally lots of ways to win. In fact, the ones I dislike the most are ones where it becomes apparent about halfway into the game that you're behind and can't catch up - just like in Monopoly. The games I play vary from 10 minutes in length to many hours. My favourites are virtually all 45 minutes to an hour and I rarely play anything over 2.5 hours. Some you might want to try if you get the chance:

Top left: Castles of Mad King Ludwig- build your own crazy castle while choosing and playing tiles (rooms), collecting sets
Top right: King of Tokyo - our 7 year old loves this dice game, play a monster try to kill other monsters while not dying yourself. Sounds simple? It's not...
Bottom left: Lords of Waterdeep - my favourite, place your workers (little wooden people we call Meeples) solve mysteries, appease your Lord and build up your points
Bottom right: Pandemic - cooperative game, that's right you're playing together and will all win or lose to save mankind from four deadly viruses

These are all different but interesting with a strong theme and are well worth a play. They aren't all my favourites but they are decent for beginners. I think there is a game for everyone out there depending on the themes and type you like.

My three favourite game things:
1) When friends come over and we play at home
2) The UK Games Expo with over 12,000 visitors, happening next week, so excited!
3) Dice and Donuts board game cafe in Preston

Saturday, 21 May 2016

TV Time?

My daughter has just turned 7 and she loves programmes. She is growing up in quite a different way to the way I did where this is concerned. We don't restrict TV time. Rachel's time is, as I said, not restricted, but we try to engage her in other activities and some days she is very happy playing with her dolls or making something or writing or pottering in the garden or a whole host of other things so doesn't watch any. 

When she does though, she virtually entirely watches DVD or on-demand TV. The result is that she despises adverts, she has never watched them so she doesn't understand why they are there. She gets really angry about them, really mad and tells them off. This is pretty funny considering I grew up with them. We also can't pause our live TV so she gets pretty annoyed about that as well! One thing she does like is Sci-Fi and Fantasy from The Sparticle Project to Sarah Jane Adventures and I've even managed to get her watching some of my childhood favourites like Tom's Midnight Garden and The Moondial by Helen Cresswell. I was amused to see that The Moondial appears on a Youtube video of 'Horrifying Kids Shows of the 80s and 90s' you can see it here I would call it mysterious and spooky but not horrifying. It's just based on an interesting concept. 

It is good though with modern-day Minty and her past-dwelling friend Tom and sad Sarah. I'd recommend it for 8-12 year olds. It's only about £6 and you can buy it here

Friday, 20 May 2016

That Friday Feeling

Why is Friday so wonderful? Why does Friday night feel so special. If like me you're a 9-5er (OK I don't actually work 9-5, but I'm close 3 days a week)...then Friday is the beginning of the weekend, the bit that we all strive for all week...it's a stay-up-late night and we only have two of them really.

There's nothing better than a Friday meme after all. Maybe Friday is more than that though. Maybe it's a license to let your hair down, chill, spod (mess around on the internet), let the kids go to bed late, eat bad food (a big bag of Kettle Chips for us) and generally lie around. I'm a big advocate of this

Not rocket science (what is?) but relaxing is good. It really is!

It's OK to just chill and do nothing, it's just your body and mind's way of winding down. Don't feel guilty about it, just take the time to enjoy it. That's my way of getting over the week anyway....and dare I say it, preparing myself for the next one!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Get The Spice(ry) in Your Life

So I'm a one for nice food and especially really delicious and tasty food. Meals out in restaurants can be amazing, but they can also be really awful; you feel like you're paying a fortune for something you could have made ten times nicer at home and that is so frustrating. One place you can get the best of both worlds is The Spicery. Their kits basically have you creating restaurant quality food in your own home. We've used them for years and two of our favourites of all time came from there- Achari Murgh curry which is flavourful and delicious a well as easily being able to control the heat and Mexican street food Birria which is slow cooked beef in tortillas - yum!

Well we tried Date Night in Yucatan on Friday night and there was one course which was particularly delicious - home baked tortilla chips with avocado and prawn escabeche. There was a slight initial lack of surety in pronunciation but I'm pretty sure I've seen it on Masterchef (don't mind Jane but preferred Juanita if you know what I mean and how did Billy get to the final??) so we were all good...

I've never baked my own tortilla chips (even though they are probably my favourite food!) but you just slice em up and brush with a little oil and bake for 5 mins. The rest was just a marvel and although they were two other courses to come if I'd just had a big plateful of those instead I'd have been fine with that!

Here's how it works. The Spicery send you an ingredient list, step by step instructions and all of the herbs and spices you need for your recipe/s measured out and labelled. It really is extremely hard to go wrong. You can get a monthly subscription or just buy individual kits or spices. I recommend the smoked paprika and Kampot pepper! The cinnamon compared to barely flavoured yuck you get in the shops is amazing! I'm quite up for the big night in next time- anyone for tortilla chips?? Get the Big Night In Kit here....

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Beauty at Blackburn Station

So I was in Blackburn for work today. It is a very interesting place and if you'd never been you'd probably wonder why you might bother. Now if I say you should go to the train station you'll think I've gone mad...probably true but stick with me.

These artworks are amazing; famous and not so famous (or maybe I don't recognise them) faces- they are formed from metal bars with bigger/ small widths and twisted areas. They are mesmerising and captivating and at certain angles the picture disappear completely and become metal bars again. They are quite magical. I wonder how many people see them every day and don't even notice them. Probably too many. Well worth a look if you are ever at Blackburn station, I wish they were in Lancaster!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Discount Day Money-Maker

Today was being very excited by the Marks and Spencer's 20% off everything in my lunch break. I realised how old all my work trousers are and that I needed to replace them. Then I remembered that two pairs of jeans went in the bin for being threadbare last week! I added in a non-bobble cardigan (is that even a real thing?!?) and a t-shirt with linen (better be decent and non-sweaty). With any luck something will fit. I used to find good old M&S a lot better sizing and quality I must say. You know, that M&S only used to sell British-made things? They are still riding on that notion that their goods are better quality than everyone else's. It isn't necessarily, although I do like their cheap washing-up liquid and I am excited by trousers and jeans as they do a short leg for shorties like me!

I always click through Quidco when I buy something. It's a habit but it costs me nothing at all and I get cashback from the retailer for shopping there. I most recently got £1.11 for a £13 order from Hotel Chocolat, £2.33 for a £78 purchase at booking.com and 55p free when I did a confused.com comparison for travel insurance. The best I ever got was £100 for a health policy. It's especially good for christmas shopping. If you use this link Quidco you'll get a free £1 when you make £5 back from purchases. I've made £1005.93 in the past 5 years. You get it as cash into your bank not vouchers as well; can't complain. Oh and I'll get 3% back from my M&S purchases, so hopefully I keep some of them....

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Gaol House Rock & Hillsborough

So I was in Norwich this week for work.It's got an unbelievable amount of churches, cathedrals and castles in it.The old gaol house was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen! It's a cafe now and it strikes me that life can be very strange, varying vastly between generations. I'm sure things used to change more slowly and I partially wish I knew that time as things are always so full on these days.

Also the verdict from the new trial of the Hillsborough disaster has been revealed.It touched me deeply to read some of the accounts of what happened and how completely corrupt the system was for the families and those who died. It's shocking to read on paper some of the things that happened and just how much those responsible covered up their responsibility. It's good to see that what goes around comes around and the truth will out but not before so much heartache.