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Every Man Needs A Shed

Life and games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Independent UK games designer, self-confessed Agricola-holic and Carl Chudyk fan-boy. www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk

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Cartographers get embarrassed about big empty spaces...

Anthony Boydell
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Popping in to the UK Games Expo this year? It's the biggest and brightest yet and they've just published a map of the Hall (singular) - mighty oaks from little acorns grow:

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Tue May 31, 2016 6:30 am
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Occ? Aye!

Anthony Boydell
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I know it's just another photographic entry but I am also working on a (time-consuming) Friendly Punter's Map for the UK Games Expo and it's a Bank Holiday Monday, so I'm having a birrova lie-in today. Anyway, this is a postcard that I was sent by the most splendid Smoox Chen - he and his Mrs had an entirely Agricola-themed wedding a couple of years ago, you know? It looked AMAZING!


Another VERY cool collectible to add to my collection!
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Mon May 30, 2016 6:45 am
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Skin

Anthony Boydell
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Mundanity thrives as, this week, I've renewed my business phone contract and secured Mrs B and me with a pair of iPhone SEs. Sweet Christ but that's dull, I know, but my Better Half treated me to a little gift yesterday evening: a 'skin' for my SE...

Spoiler (click to reveal)




She's a keeper, yes?
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Sun May 29, 2016 6:35 am
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Ar-Key-opterix (what really happened)

Anthony Boydell
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Please note that my previous write-up of Friday's events has been removed after Boffo raised a number of factual corrections; I have duly noted these and now present, for your digestion, what really happened on Friday night.

Thankfully the "I'm not a racist but..." bloke, talking about his racist dog, wasn't at the White Lion yestere'en so we were all set of a tranquil, silent rage-free evening. Well, that is until someone put one of those montage pop records from the early 1980s on and the vein started pulsing in my temple: you know, the Everly Brothers mixed in to the Beatles mixed in to Herman's Hermits etc with a teeth-grinding metronome synth beat 'holding it all together'? Gah! Thankfully this new Hell ended after 10 minutes or so, to be replaced by full, non-Radio Edit mix of Prince's Sexy Motherfucker...but I'm jumping ahead somewhat.

Boffo was settled at our usual table, contemplating a tiny rule book and a-sipping a pleasingly nut-brown ale: the quintessential gamer image and one that announced that all was well with the world. Panicking, for a brief moment, that Smudge had changed her mind and 'stayed in', Boffo reassured me that we would be the promised four because Smudge was making the most of the balmy evening and walking down. It was, in fact, the normally-punctual Jobbers who was conspicuous by his absence; ever keen to ensure he has the plum-est of parking spaces, the hirsute mentalist is often 'in situ' by the late afternoon and pig-in-shit happy in an aural fug of 1980s leopardskin A.O.R.

Like putting the kettle on to chivvy the arrival of a party guest, the Batesons and I started the rules run-thru of Patronize - an Hisashi Hayashi micro-game - which, true to form, had the desired effect of summoning the BMW-fixated Marcle lunatic to the Bar: "You couldn't wait two minutes?" he complained, low-alcohol cider in one hairy hand, and then proceeded to tell us how great a radio show he'd just been listening to was. I suspect we have determined the reason for his tardiness?



In summary: You are dealt a hand of cards and will, in order, play out a card in an attempt to win a Goal card for the round; the highest numbered card, or 'trump' card if the Goal indicates a preference, wins it and everyone else gets some coloured cubes based on what cards they, and their left-most opponent, played. Sets of cubes are worth VPs of increasing value based on quantity, the cards you play out (usually) come in to your tableau and are also worth VPs / provide further game-end conditional VPs. In a neat twist, you have two fewer hand cards than there shall be 'rounds', so you will have to PASS...and when you pass you have the opportunity to take a cube of your choice OR steal a card-just-played from another player.

Patronize, skinned to fit the AEG Tempest universe, is a quick and fun filler in a world bursting with quick-and-fun fillers; I vaguely recall playing a version of it waaaaaaay back in my London days when it was a Japon Brand imprint but have no idea whether this new version had been changed at all. We played it a second time, because it pleased us so, but the others veto-ed my suggestion of 'a third' because something meatier was calling.

Travelling light, as I have been these last few weeks, I only had Caylus, Guilds of London and Keythedral under my arm; the latter, a firm favourite of Smudge's, caught Jobbers' eye too and I was happy to finally get THIS particular copy to the table:


The unbuilt Keythedral


Mr Breese gifted me this 2002 1st Edition copy after a slew of Inhabit The Earth playtests; this deal was weighted extraordinarily-heavily in my favour, of course, but I was (and still am) delighted to have obtained it!

In summary: Workers are assigned to fields in order to generate resources (wood, water, grapes, stone and 'green') which can, in turn, be exchanged for luxury goods (glass, gold and iron) OR to upgrade your workers' homes OR to build pieces of the Keythedral itself for (the only source of) VPs. The heart of the game is centred around the initial building of the play area (used and re-worked in Key Market) where terrain types and player houses are set; the subsequent assignment of workers in each round is key-ed (!) off the numeric ID of houses (1 thru 5) and is a bit like the 'when do you want to wake up?' mechanism from Fresco. Thus, if a player choose 'All Houses numbered 3' then, in turn order, players put a worker in any single field adjacent to their number 3 house...this, of course, can lead to being shut out of valid spaces because each 'field' can only hold one worker; the whole process is exacerbated by upgrading the house so that, when triggered, TWO workers wander off to labour instead of just one!

It was a fine way to spend 90 minutes and, despite the sometime-shutouts, felt calm and friendlyBoffo's not really a fan of this Key offering and, after raising his eyes to the ceiling and tutting throughout my reasonably-succinct (for once) rules read-out, contented himself with 'sticking it' to his Mrs on the couple of occasions that presented themselves. It escalated to a swift ending as, in the last round, we bought 7+ pieces of the Keythedral between us. I enjoyed the experience, despite that final rush; it was also fun to spot the mechanisms that have been carried through the Breesian oeuvre - the genome of Key games laid bare!


The fields are alive with the sound of peasants.


There was still plenty of time, so Jobbers posited Wizard - the highly-regarded trick-taker - and it was made so by the exuberantly-nodding Batesons. I readily-admit to having no idea at all about trick taking games and their bidding mechanisms and how to arrive at a bid and then subsequently play out against that bid. I am befuddled. Eight rounds (of 15), and 30 minutes in, I was languishing on minus 20 - staggeringly-unable to meet any of my bids - whilst the others were all nip-and-tucking in the 200s.

With the prospect of this unhappy process continuing for another half-hour, I respectfully asked if we could play something else. The others acquiesced and we drew my evening to a close with: With forty minutes still to go before I had to leave, it seemed - given my crushing ineptitude - and the escalating derision from Boffo - that "I'd rather go early OR spend the time playing something else, to be honest". Such admissions are ripe, then, for Boffonian derision and I found myself attempting to explain my predicament in the face of beery aloofness. I like Ben very much, but he can be just plain rude sometimes.

Acquiesce they did, thankfully, and so it was on to a Smudge-suggested Codenames:


A temporary diversion for the trio: Wizard was set aside for when I'd gone.


Boffo and I proved a solid and un-breachable pairing, comfortably winning both rounds, despite the above-mentioned monotone disco compilation. The highlight was Jobbers announcing 'Archaeopteryx: 2' with 'Dinosaur' and 'Fly' on the table, only to have Smudge ask 'What's THAT?'. The lowlight was the appearance of the 'Bill' card, once again reminding us of the continued mysterious absence of our beloved 'Captain'.
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Sat May 28, 2016 7:11 pm
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You can shove it up your arse, frankly.

Anthony Boydell
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(another week, another snub from 'The Geek Weekly'; yes I am hurt that my extensive efforts are so roundly-ignored by a "Round Up" that only picks a tiny minority of the great bits. Apart from me (me, me, me!) not getting a mench, it really grinds my gears to see the all-round Superb-a-trix Milena Guberinic and everyone's favourite Eastern European Ignacy Trzewiczek passed over so fuck-stuntingly rudely. In my humble opinion, an image of a deluxe reissue of Knizia's Lord of the Rings is nowhere near as impressive as any single photograph you care to choose from Milena's blog! There: I've had my rant. Now it's time to take the piss...)


Hello, fragile board gamer, and welcome to The Week, Geekly: a cheery, mostly-sterile, curse-free and family-friendly round-up (your jacksy) of things you've may have pmissed, things you may have glimpsed in p-arse-ing and/or things you have seen in great (pert-nippled) detail and are now heartily sick of, here on your favourite (shiny bell-end) website!


This week there's been a disappointing lack of celebrity deaths so no sign of 'Game Boxes Made Better With Pictures Of...{whomever}' BUT that's not stopped Bunty Areola-Perinium delighting us with her alternatives: 'Game Boxes Made Better With The Severed Head of A Cat On', 'Game Boxes Made Better With Pictures of Other Game Boxes On' and 'Game Boxes, In Clothes, Are My Only Friends'.

If you've had a bad week and want to let off some steam, then thrice-banned Ernesto Phuqnozzl has started up the 'Game Designers: How I Think They Will Die' discussion thread which invites you to meditate on the mortality of designers, publishers, other hobby celebrities and Tom Vasel, and how they will kick the bucket. The thread was moved to R.S.P but, quickly, bounced right back again because it was deemed too offensive even for THAT sewage sump of a Forum! No points for suggesting Uwe Rosenberg is going to 'Buy The Farm', though - ho! ho!, eh?


There's an absolute hot-and-throbbing fountain of vomit, of teenagers-after-their-first-proper-drink proportions, in the Crowdfunding universe at the moment (no change there), so if you fancy checking out any of the following then you know where to meaty-flaps go:
The Last Hymen - a legacy-style game about chastity for bigoted Christians.
Turds Against Humanity - collectible boosters containing plastic 'stool-ples' with a scratch-and-sniff card and a stick of soiled bubble gum.
Uncle Spunkle's 'Magic Wand' Board Game (the video is currently unavailable)


There are hundreds of images uploaded every day and this one, of {insert designer name here} working on the prototype of his next Euro, caught my eye:


And to think that this could be on the SdJ list come next May?
Er..I _did_ reference the right pic, didn't I?




Wow! What a rush, eh?



Poll
1. Do you know what a board game is?
Yes, of course.
Yes, but my wife doesn't (ho-ho!)
Yes, despite what my husband says above (and he'll be laughing on the other side of his stupid face in a moment!)
No. I only got here after a Google search went awry.
2. How often do you play board games?
Once a month
Once a fortnight
Once every 10 days
Once a week
Daily
Whenever my Lord Satan demands it of me
3. Will a game win Spiel des Jahres this year?
Yes
No
      115 answers
Poll created by tonyboydell
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Fri May 27, 2016 8:18 am
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10 Years After

Anthony Boydell
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* * * A WELL, I NEVER! POST * * *


Here's a bit of fun (relatively speaking): these are the games released in 2006 with a BGG rating of 6.5 (and 1000+ user ratings). Wow! It was quite the year, wasn't it?

(FYI I've played the emboldened ones)

Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
BattleLore
Commands & Colors: Ancients
Combat Commander: Europe
Shogun
Here I Stand
The Pillars of the Earth
Imperial
Neuroshima Hex!
Thurn and Taxis
Mr. Jack
Warrior Knights
Qwirkle
Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Shattered Empire
Blue Moon City
Yspahan

Taluva
War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age
Arkham Horror: Dunwich Horror Expansion
Arkham Horror: Curse of the Dark Pharaoh Expansion
Ticket to Ride: Märklin
Ticket to Ride: USA 1910
Cleopatra and the Society of Architects
Incan Gold
Tempus
Leonardo da Vinci
Factory Fun
A Game of Thrones: A Storm of Swords Expansion
Arkadia
Descent: The Well of Darkness
Mykerinos
Drakon (third edition)
World of Warcraft Trading Card Game
World of Warcraft: The Boardgame – Shadow of War
Traders of Osaka
Carcassonne: The Tower
Carcassonne: The Mini Expansion
Perikles
Iliad
Masons
Power Grid: Benelux/Central Europe
Space Dealer
Hermagor
On the Underground

Gheos
Memoir '44: Pacific Theater
Blokus
Trigon
Canal Mania
Medici vs Strozzi
Ingenious: Travel Edition

Edit: This is a year when I was very much a noob/light gamer - my published games were Coppertwaddle and Bloody Legacy, and Scandaroon was in the pipeline! Guilds of London and Snowdonia were scribbles in a notebook!

* * * A WELL, I NEVER! POST * * *


P.S. There is no postscript.
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Thu May 26, 2016 9:39 am
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You can't get runs in the pavillion!

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I love Cricket, me. It is the sport of gentlemen and their gentle wives. It is the soul-affirming 'thwack!' of leather on willow, the meat paste sandwich and milky tea. It is spending five days on a hard seat, drinking flat ale while something goes on 400 yards away on some grass. It is what God plays in his Heaven (Jesus is 'keeper' and the Holy Ghost's got a wicked Googly).

Given that most of today's action is only available via subscription channels (which I am too tight/lazy to get involved with), me and the missus (an even bigger fan) make do with the excellent - and insurpassable - Test Match Special on t'Radiogram. Many's the car journey, or garden repose, that's been sound-tracked by the glorious witterings of Agnew, Boycott et al.

For those that don't know about Cricket, here's the 'traditional' explanation:
You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.

When real matches are unavailable, I make do with a cheap iOS app that I downloaded, about four years ago, called Flick Cricket:


(from L to R): Run! (after a *snik*), Timing the shot, Selecting my bowler, Picking my 'line' and a fine delivery!


You take turns at Batting and then defending your total as the Fielding Team:
- Batting: the app sends a ball 'down the screen' towards the Wicket and you must drag (flick) your finger across the screen to ‘hit’ the ball in the direction of your choosing. Sometimes one of the AI fielders will be in the way to catch it (you’re OUT!) or stop it and throw it back; you might get the chance to ‘run’, or just let the ball fly over the boundary for a FOUR (touches the ground before going off the edge) or SIX (doesn’t touch the ground). It’s a Five Over game (30 balls are ‘delivered’), so you’re trying to score as high a total as possible.
- Bowling: the app asks you to select a style of bowler (Pace = fast, Swing = fast-ish and it drifts left or right or Spin = slow but moves all over the place on the bounce) and then presents the ‘direction’ of the ball (left, middle or right). It’s not very sophisticated but you CAN get a spin bowler to deliver on the right and bounce wildly to the left – very satisfying.

It’s corkingly good fun and presents plenty of opportunities to slag off your fielders when the run away from a ball that’s hit at them, cheer when you hit something for six or make the App ‘edge’ a delivery in to the waiting hands of the Wicket Keeper or a Slip!

There is a sequel (Flick Cricket 2) available now but it's rather inferior...and it's taken player bowling completely away! Boooo, indeed!

Finally, I can't present a post about Cricket without linking to this piece of classic British broadcasting history:

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Wed May 25, 2016 11:13 am
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Eff Eff Ess

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Hours, I spent; hours and hours pouring over the proofs:


For your Reference: is there an echo in here (in here in here)?
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Tue May 24, 2016 6:30 am
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Alternative SdJ

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Blah blah Codenames yadda yadda Imhotep rhubarb rhubarb Karuba; once again, the so-called 'committee' has announced it's 'alleged' short-list 'apparently'; once again, more obvious choices have been shoved to one side! Here's what _I_ would've chosen (and my pick is the ):

(but, hey, what the Hell do _I_ know?)

Ignore the Yeti: A variant on that internet meme from a few years back, this lavishly-illustrated (that Fremens Klanz guy again!), is - in a kind of twist the Jury loves - all about 'not playing'! If you look at the Yeti: you're eliminated. If you mention the Yeti: you're eliminated. If you hear the word 'Yeti': you're eliminated. This means that if you suggest to play it or you read out the rules or you just happen to be in the room, you're all out. Comes with compatibility rules for over 100 other games that feature a Yeti. You're eliminated, by the way.

Codernames: The party word game for IT developers! Yes, hilarious 'microseconds of processing cycles' ensue as one tries to link 'malloc', 'CPU binding' and 'Segmentation Fault - Core Dumped' with one word clues from an 'on the spectrum', bearded Cheetos addict.

The: specifically named to mess up Search engines, 'The' - from Shite Games - is like Cards Against Humanity but without the tact. Players dare each other to perform escalating 'boundary-challenging' forfeits in exchange for VPs eg. 'Call a stranger a cock to their face', 'Drink a pint of your own urine', 'Laugh at a disabled person', 'Drink a pint of someone else's urine' and 'Play a full game of Bora Bora'. Shite Games are releasing a celebratory SdJ nomination expansion pack called The: Legacy, which adds 'Grievous Bodily Harm', 'Inappropriate Touching/Public Nudity' and 'Running for the Republican Presidential Nomination' to the gumbo of laddish fuck-wittery.

And for 'the Kenner'?

Not Elysium (but it is really) - Having been pipped to the grand prize last year, Dunstan & Gilbert try again to snaffle the big ticket.

Isle of Curry: a fantastic auction-led tile-layer where players add up the total of their tiles and then try and split the difference by dividing the total of all tiles by the number of players. Whomever gets the most for the least (eg. by sneaking in a cheeky extra beer or eating someone else's starter instead of ordering your own) is declared the winner!

And for the 'Kinder'? It's figuratively - and literally - a 'no brainer' for Dora The Zombie Flesh-Eating Explorer. The evergreen cartoon favourite leads players on a fascinating (and educational) culinary journey through the Human Body: starting with the removal of the scalp giving access to the living brain, the body cavity & internal organs and ending with a chew on a fat calf. Visceral, dice-rolling fun (6 and over).
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Mon May 23, 2016 10:35 am
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N.S.P.C.C to see you, to see you N.S.P.C.C

Anthony Boydell
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Adam from the Hereford gamers, known for a while now to the Batesons, has been running an annual fundraising 'family game day' (12 until late) in aid of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (N.S.P.C.C). Last year I was invited but unable to attend on account of running around the Forest of Dean with my boys shooting eachother with paintballs! However, _this year_he asked me a bit earlier and so I was able to mark it off in the old diary; well, mostly, because I still had to get back late afternoon to organise Fred's birthday curry supper. Still, four hours of gaming is not to be scoffed at, especially in the light of Friday's tempestuous débacle, so I packed up some more accessible fayre and drove the 20-or-so miles to Hereford.

There was much to-ing and fro-ing as I'd found a cosy nook in the car park and narrowly-avoided stepping in an enormous canine turd; this is not going to be a 'Convention' scale event but Adam and his crew were fussing about most diligently to ensure that a fine time should be had by all. Thus, the hot water urn was already a-bubbling, snacks were laid out and even the prize tables for the Auction/Raffle were beginning to sag under the weight of generous donations. For myself, I added a recently-acquired German Snowdonia with English upgrade pack and a pre-Expo Snod: Seasons - someone is going to snaffle up a bargain in the auction later!


The (almost) empty Hall; I say 'almost' because...


Within minutes, Ben and Becky had turned up: Ben, 'as per', heaving an enormous canvas bodybag stuffed with games. It didn't take long before they were drafted in to a quick couple of games of Blokus:



For myself, I partook of some dextrous frippery in the shape of Toc Toc Woodman.
In summary, it's a visually-pleasing Jenga variant where you have 'two taps' against any part of the stacked, plastic trunk; if you knock the central core 'out' enough, then the bark pieces - slipped on like jigsaw bits - will slide off and on to the table...and score you points! If you should also dislodge core pieces then these will score negatively against you.


"Tony? You're only supposed to knock the bloody bark off!". My first tap had all the subtlety of an aubergine up the jacksy! Setting the unlogic of lumberjacks wanting 'just the bark and none of the actual wood' aside, this is a daft and fun filler in the manner of God's own Loopin' Louie.

With new-to-the-scene Emma joining us for a while, we started off easy with a visit of one of my own favourite designs: Totemo.



One day I might find a way to redo it with much cheaper-to-produce pieces but, until then, I'll continue my personal quest to beat Boffo at it; yes, in six years of playing with the wheezing one I have failed to conquer him at my own game! Today would
see me breaking that particular duck BUT finding the Bateson honour still intact because Smudge edged in front FTW! (impotently shakes fist at the sky)

Having broken Emma in to our way of playin', it seemed appropriate to go from one 'building things in 3D' visual treat to another and I didn't need any persuading to get stuck in to the EXCELLENT Cubist:



I'm rather adept at Cubist and, once again, managed to exploit some cheap artworks and fortuitous rolls to force the end the game and fill up the central museum with four of my dice. I think Emma enjoyed it; the rest us certainly did!

It seemed a bit early for Spot it!, what with it being just after 2PM, but there was a rowdy crowd of punters already full-throated into Codenames at the beverages end of the Hall so we snapped open the tin and said 'What the heck!'.



The Hall was filling up and those that weren't already in a game were gathered round a table of hand-made Dice Towers and there was much happy clacking. We had not yet frightened Emma off so, in for a penny / in for a pound, I slapped my plums on the table and invited her to admire them.



Like Cubist before it, my natural aptitude saw me to a comfortable win (47) but the game was more remarkable for Smudge FINALLY seeming to understand what-the-jiggins is going on (41). Always a pleasure to give 'em an airing, plums remains one of my absolute favourites!

The clock was a-ticking and there was just enough time to introduce John, our replacement for a wanderlusting Emma, to the superlative Glass Road; this has rocketed up the Ross-on-Wye charts like a recently-dead rock star's back catalogue - rightly so because it's a LOT of game in a rich, never-outstays-its-welcome package:



In a satisfying change from the norm, I managed to play this competently, and with some kind of plan, which netted me a career best 21.5 points! Luckily, I delayed any embarrassing 'in your face!' victory celebrations having noticed Smudge still
with things to tally having muttered '21' under her breath! There was just 1/2 a point in it...in HER favour! (again, powerlessly, shakes fist at the sky)

A spicy Birthday tea awaited my attention, so it was a fond farewell to our cheery hosts and full volume on the car stereo and homeward; recently, I have rediscovered the pure pop mastery of Jellyfish's second album: Spilt Milk. It's The Beatles, Queen, 10cc and The Beach Boys all rolled in to one glorious package; here's one of the singles from that record!

You're very welcome.



P.s. Thanks, and congrats to Adam and the team for raising £400!
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Sun May 22, 2016 7:10 am
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