A Bluffers Guide to the UK
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
Bath
Somerset
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It's summer in the green and pleasant land and I thought I'd prepare a useful guide for those of you who may be planning to visit us in the near future. All being geeks of course, I feel my advice would speak better if described through the medium of games.

Any other residents of this island nation should feel free to add their own tips to guide prospective visitors.
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1. Board Game: Coffee! [Average Rating:4.66 Unranked]
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
Bath
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NATIONAL CUISINE #1: TEA

Everyone in England drinks tea, gallons of it, all day long. You should be prepared to follow suit because the tea is actually pretty good, whereas any coffee you buy (even from internationally recognised outlets like starbucks) will taste like gritty mud.

I once spent a short time working in Germany, in spite of my utter inability to speak German. Everywhere I went, people would apologise about the tea. It drove me crazy. They were all convinced that the English drank nothing but the finest quality loose leaf tea from expensive porcelain, prepared after secretive, elaborate and arcane brewing rituals to improve the flavour.

They were right, of course, but I wasn't letting on.
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2. Board Game: Grease [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
Bath
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NATIONAL CUISINE #2: FRY-UPS

The English idea of haute cuisine usually consists of buying cheap, tasteless cuts of meat and then removing whatever flavour is left in them by frying them to a crisp. The English eat things that would make the arteries of even Americans cringe. I've no idea how come you lot consistantly beat us in the world obesity stakes given the stuff that's still served up in transport cafes across the country.

This explains why there's such a high incidence of vegetarianism in England. I'm one.

Visitors should be especially aware that this trend applies even at breakfast time. In every catering establishment you visit for breakfast you won't get a choice of pancakes, eggs, pastries and the other delights available across the world. You will instead be forced to endure the "full english", a meal so steeped in carbohydrate that even the bread gets fried instead of toasted. You might even enjoy this the first couple of times. It won't last.

Should you choose to visit Scotland, be aware that things up there are even worse. In Scotland they prepare complex dishes with mountains of fat and sugar. And then they fry them.
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3. Board Game: BBC Match Of The Day: Football Trivia [Average Rating:2.00 Unranked]
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
Bath
Somerset
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NATIONAL SPORTS #1: Football

This is proper football, the kind where people actually spend most of the time kicking the ball around with their feet, not the strange kind you play in America where the players seems to spend most of the time in huddles or else carrying the ball in their hands.

Be aware that at the moment there's a football world cup on, which everyone in England is watching because the entire nation has managed to delude itself that it has a chance of winning. Again this is a proper world cup in which the whole world is involved, not a world series which involves only America.

Never, never call it "Soccer" in public, unless you want to be ripped apart by a crowd of slavering Milwall fans.
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4. Board Game: Armchair Cricket [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:6334]
Matt Thrower
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Bath
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NATIONAL SPORTS #1: Cricket

Unless you're visiting on a six-month student visa, don't bother trying to understand cricket. It'll take you that long to unravel the arcane lexicon associated with the game, let alone the laws. Any game in which a player can be a rabbit out for a golden duck leg-before to a chinaman is going to take a while to get to grips with.

If you've got a longer visa, you might also get the chance to start to penetrate Geoff Boycott's accent.

Don't compare it to baseball either unless you want to be gently mocked by a crowd of slavering upper-class gentlemen.
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5. Board Game: Scotland Yard [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1085]
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
Bath
Somerset
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PLACES TO VISIT #1: London

This is the first apex of the so-called "Golden Triangle" of English tourism, although the people who coined that phrase had obviously not been to Dehli, Agra and Jaipur.

People in the UK think London is a big, big city. And it's got quite a high population, yes. But the thing to remember about London is that the vast population is crammed into an area only a few miles across, making the city one huge simmering vat of hatred and resentment, particularly during hot weather. Acres of pleasent suburban detached houses this is not.

The city is surrounded by the M25, a circular motorway. Author Neil Gaiman suggested that the engineers posts had been moved by satanists during construction to make the outline of the M25 resemble a terrible, evil symbol and thus transform the M25 into another simmering vat of hatred and resentment. Having driven on the M25 I can confirm this is entirely plausable.
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6. Board Game: Aqua Romana [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2290]
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
Bath
Somerset
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PLACES TO VISIT #2: Bath

The second Apex of the triangle, and where I happen to live.

The most famous thing about Bath is the fact that the Romans used to come here to, well, have a bath. The Baths are still standing and you can visit them if you like even though the water is now full of virulent and highly toxic bacteria.

The second most famous thing about Bath is that it was built largely in Edwardian times and that most of the fine architecture of that period is still standing. What this means in reality is that streets design for a few horse-drawn carriages and now having to cope with a vast influx of tourist traffic, leading to traffic snarlups that make central Manhattan look like the free flowing waters of Niagra Falls.
 
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7. Board Game: Hammer of the Scots [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:317]
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
Bath
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PLACES TO VISIT #3: Edinburgh

The third apex, which also happens to be in Scotland. You might like to visit the famous Scots highlands while you're up there although you'll find they look a lot like the Rockies. Largely because geologically speaking they are the Rockies.

Anyway, I can't offer much advice here because I've never been myself. See point #2 for some advice about Scots food. I believe that the Scots no longer butcher tourists like they did in Wallace's day but you have to ask yourself whether you'd really want to visit the nation that regards minced sheep innards stuffed into unminced sheep innards as a national delicacy.
 
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8. Board Game: 1825 Regional Kit R1: Wales [Average Rating:6.89 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.89 Unranked]
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
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PLACES TO VISIT #4: Wales

North Wales is very beautful and fine walking country but be sure to take plently of water: pronouncing any of the place names is impossible without a plentiful supply of phlegm.

If you visit Wales before you come to England, you may come away with the mistaken impression that it's a country in the union of Great Britain. Never mention this to the English, because we all know it's nothing but a petty principality with fake and pathetic pretentions to nationhood. On the other hand never reveal that to a Welshman unless you want to be ripped apart by a crowd of slavering sheep.
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9. Board Game: Let's Go Shopping Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
Bath
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MINOR ANNOYANCES #1: Service

If you go into any shop, hotel, restaurant or pub in the UK, be aware that no matter how bad the service is, an Englishman will never, never complain about it in the establishment. He will instead nurse the greivance for years and complain about it liberally to all his family, friends and passing strangers who are prepared to listen. But never, never to the people who provided the poor service.

This is why the unusual mixture of surliness, disinterest and barely-concealed hostility is what passes for a service culture in this country. And so the cycle continues.
 
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10. Board Game: The London Game [Average Rating:5.37 Overall Rank:14569]
Matt Thrower
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MINOR ANNOYANCES #2: Public Transport

Just don't. Really.

This is an entirely serious piece of advice.
 
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11. Board Game: BrewMaster: The Craft Beer Game [Average Rating:5.72 Overall Rank:11111]
Phil Oates
United Kingdom
Leeds, West Yorkshire
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Brits love beer, and you should too.
We start drinking aged 12 and don't stop until we fall over. Find a dank, dingy room in an establishment called the Queen's Pyjamas and demand a pint of foaming ale.
 
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12. Board Game: Check [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked]
Phil Oates
United Kingdom
Leeds, West Yorkshire
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Watch out for the latest manaces on the urban landscape. Spotted in packs of at least 6, they are identified by their attire of fake 'Burberry' check and hooded tops.

These feral creatures are known as 'chavs' or 'hoodies'.
Often fuelled, not by the distinguished and artful brew (see above), but by alcopops (alcoholic soda, for the benefit of our US friends) they wander around towns and suburbs looking for an nice peaceful environment to invade, and probably set alight.

To discover the chav quotient of your intended destination, check out www.chavtowns.co.uk (beware the occasional use of 'language', as my grandmother would call it).

ps. There is no image because the security camera has been stolen.
 
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13. Board Game: Mind Your Language [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
Andy Ravenscroft
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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LANGUAGE

English is not the same as American English. As well as the hoary chestnuts of pavement for sidewalk, boot for trunk, tube for subway, toilet for bathroom, you need to watch out for regional slang. Cockney rhyming slang is one of the most colourful, including such gems as butchers, Tea Leaf, Cream Crackered and my American wife's personal favourite, Richards. A helpful primer on CRS is available here: http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk/default.aspx

If you go further afield, such as to Newcastle, Liverpool, or Glasgow, you're going to need a local guide or a professional translator.
 
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14. Board Game: Britannia [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:574]
Andy Ravenscroft
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A 'BRIT'...

...except to Americans.

And by the way, 'British' is a synonym for 'English'. On no account attempt to refer to a Scotsman, Welshman, Irishman (or for that matter a Manxman - see avatar) as British, since the ensuing violence will not enhance your holiday experience.
 
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15. Board Game: Queen's Necklace [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1800]
Kunnagh Scott
England
Bristol
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Don't forget the real reason that all you colonial types are coming to the mother country

As well as the crown jewels (which is another bit of English slang you might need to check up on) you can also see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Actually, if past experience is anything to go by, you can do what you like at the Queen's gaff, including dressing as Batman and scaling the place. ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3653462.stm )

Remind me what those guards they keep changing are there for again? Oh yes. Tourist dollars! laugh
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16. Board Game: Don't Make Me Laugh [Average Rating:3.70 Unranked]
SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
England
York
North Yorkshire
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BRITS THINK THEY ARE FUNNY.

We think we invented comedy and nobody is as funny as us. We think that everything, absolutely everything goes better with a larf. Regretably, this invariably takes the form of spiteful put-downs, stupid sarcasm, and pitiful self-deprecation. I was only being funny, mate, can't you take a joke? What's wrong, lost your sense of humour?

Good humour is hard to find these days. Wit is rarer still.
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17. Board Game: Meteo [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:12608]
Nick West
Scotland
Edinburgh
Midlothian
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....and I'm not certain about the universe." Albert Einstein
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MAJOR ANNOYANCES #1: The Weather

Not the Seasons, which are great to have, but the not being able to leave the house knowing weather or not you will need coat/umbrella/sunglasses/survival blanket (delete as appropriate).

I was on a wild camping trip in the Scottish Highlands two/three weeks ago: May usually being the best month to go (dry, not too cold, no midges).

We get the wettest May weather on record, the coldest May day for 23 years (- 4 degrees c!) and have to camp at midday before a river in spate that was impossible to cross until the next morning.

This week - dry and warm (up around 28 degrees) - down in London for the day and get soaked and flooded in a cloudburst which closes the airport briefly.

What the X*&%!!

Our weather gives us something to talk about to strangers though I guess....
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18. Board Game: Pie Face [Average Rating:4.60 Overall Rank:14501]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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NATIONAL CUISINE #3: MEAT PIES

Many friends have reported to me that over the last decade-plus, London has assumed its rightful role as a capital of world cuisine.

But when I was there, in 1991, I almost starved from a failure to find anything both edible and affordable.

Mind you, I am an incurable world traveler, and will try anything. There's almost nothing I won't eat. On trips from Mongolia to Zimbabwe, I've been the guinea pig -- the guy who will put anything in his mouth to prove to others that it's not fatal.

In London, we had a hell of a time finding edible cuisine. We'd been advised that there were two reliable options if we got desperate: Indian food, or pub food.

I don't know how we managed it, but we managed to pick out what are apparently the city's few mediocre, overpriced Indian restaurants (fellow American lovers of Indian food tell me that we were just improbably unlucky, and that most Indian food in London is terrific.)

Turning to the pubs, we made an interesting discovery. "Pie" in the UK means something very different than it does in the US. In the US, a pie is made with fruit, or something sweet. You know, blueberry, apple, maybe chocolate pecan. . . a pie, however, does not contain beef, or pork, or lamb.

Not only did we run into the "Shepherd's pie," we, at our first pub, ordered a pie that turned out to be composed of pork and apple -- now THERE is an appetizing combination.

Meat and fruit can be a pretty revolting mix. After a few such experiences, we started avoiding pub food also.

It's the only trip on which I've lost weight.

Just for the record, I adored London in every other way -- no disrespect intended. But the food. . . lordy. . .

 
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19. Board Game: Doctor Who: The Game of Time & Space [Average Rating:5.40 Overall Rank:14476]
Kristi Long
Scotland
Edinburgh
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Hurry! If you manage to schedule your trip within the next three weeks or so you'll get to catch some of the most recent episodes of Dr Who. It's great to see this show on the air again. The new series is completely amazing and starts the fabulous (and Scottish, though sans accent in the show) David Tennant. I'm particularly taken with Rose Tyler, the companion who saves the world again and again....
(I can't believe it took so long to get Dr Who into a geeklist!)
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20. Board Game: Re-Route: The Marching Season Game [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
John Wilson
United Kingdom
Unspecified
Unspecified
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PLACES TO VISIT #5: Northern Ireland

One of the more neglected parts of the UK, due to a small outbreak of sectarian grumpiness (aka "The Troubles"). Northern Ireland has some very nice scenery - like the Giant's Causeway, the Mourne Mountains and the Antrim Glens. It also has Belfast and Stroke City (if you call it this, you'll avoid the whole problem of Derry/Londonderry).

Cheif contributions to world cuisine include the Ulster Fry (a fried breakfast that makes the Full English look distinctly weedym and that even manages to outdo the Scots equivalent) and champ.

However, for the love of all things holy avoid it during the Marching Season. At this time of year, the Orangemen decide to go on mass walks throughout Ulster, beating drums and declaring their loyalty to a long-dead minor Dutch nobleman. This causes ructions between various factions which usually culminate in the ceremonial turning of backs on the Ormeau Road or the mass camp-out on the Garvachy Road. All sane people (no matter their religious denomination or political persuasion) leave Northern Ireland at this time of year in order to avoid it. I left there 18 years ago just to get away from it and haven't been back since. It was either that or keep making up excuses why I didn't join my grandmother on the aforementioned mass walks.

At any other time, you are reasonably safe, provided you avoid certain areas. If you walk past a house and think "That's a nice mural" or "Aren't the kerb-stones colourful?", retrace your steps quickly and don't answer any questions from the locals. Any answer a tourist gives is liable to be the wrong one.

"Say your alphabet ... "
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