2018 – Lock and Load

Welcome to 2018.  So far, looks comfortable enough.  Bit of padding around the waist, but nothing that a little diet (and a lot less C2H5OH) won’t solve.

Would’ve written this yesterday but was suffering from a little post-New Year pneumonia (as defined by Grand Tour, Season 2, Episode 1).

Christmas 2017 brought us some fantastic games that we’ve spent the holiday playing – these are games that all the family can play, for a certain definition of “all the family” – we’ve got just the 5 kids, so they’re games that can cope with 7 players, our youngest is 7, eldest is 17, and my wife and I are both significantly north of that so they’ve got quite a spread to keep us interested.  If you’re looking for fast, fun, family games, you can’t go wrong with:

5 Second Rule

Apparently we’ve got the “Junior” edition of this game, so I dread to think how hard the “Adult” version would be!  TL:DR – you’ve got 5 seconds to name 3 things as dictated by the card.  3 Superheroes.  3 things you do at school.  3 bands your parents’ listen to.  That sort of stuff.  Assuming you name 3, you get a point, play moves to the next person, and they’ve got to do the same – only they can’t repeat any answers.  Continue until someone fails completely and draw a new topic.

Now 5 seconds is not a lot of time and your brain can do some wonderfully creative thinking.  For “3 things with wheels” we had “cars, bicycles, er, er, er, buckets”.  For “3 birds” the first answer was “Herring”.

You play until someone scores 15 points, so the game moves along pretty quickly even with 7 playing.

Family score: 5/5


Somewhere between “Uno”, “Snap”, and “Down the River”, this is a quick and simple card game, the aim of which is to collect all the cards.  Wasn’t helped by Thing 1 having honed her reflexes playing Irish Snap at school with her friends winning pretty damn quickly.  7 players is a bit many and, like “Down the River” when you get to 2 or 3 left in the game it can slow down.  Still, fun enough for the kids to want to play it again.

Family score: 3/5

Sussed – All Sorts

How well do you know your family?  Each player takes turns to read a scenario from their card, with a choice of 3 possible answers – e.g. “What would I most want to do? (a) Sky diving, (b) Llama trekking, (c) Archery”.  They make a note of their answer, everyone else playing picks one.  Move on to the next player.  When everyone’s done the 4 scenarios on their cards, you go back around the table and find out how well you know the rest of the family.  You score points for correct answers.

Turns out, not very!  Well, I don’t seem to know my wife or kids, my kids know my wife and I pretty damn well.

Family score: 4/5


The neighbours brought this round to play on New Year’s eve.  Another fast-moving card game, similar to Uno but less complicated.  Cards have a suit and a number, there are 4 suits.  7 cards each to start with.  Each turn you play a card that matches either suit or number, or you draw a card if you can’t play. There are “Whot” cards that match everything and allow the player to change the suit.  Play continues until either (a) no-one can play or (b) someone plays all the cards in their hand.  Then you total up the points scores of the cards you’re left with, jot it down, deal passes 1 player left, and you continue until you’ve gone round everyone.  Winner is the person with the lowest score.

Simple?  Yes.  It doesn’t have the reverses or skips of Uno.  Fun?  Definitely!  Cries of anguish when someone changes the suit on you just as you’re about to play your last card!

Family score: 5/5, must get a set ourselves.


We brought this out on NYE after a few rounds of Whot, some Mao (I’ll have to get Thing 1 to explain that) and some poker.

If you don’t know Fluxx, it’s a card game that starts with a very simple rule:  Draw 1 card, play 1 card.  Other cards complicate things by changing the rules, actually setting victory conditions for the game, allowing you to steal cards from other players…  Great fun.

We’ve got “Classic”, “Eco”, and “Family” versions of Fluxx.  Thing 1 has “Cthulhu”.  I’m rather keen to pick up “Dr Who” and “Monty Python”.  They all have their own little variations on the rules, but the classic is just that

Family Score: 4/5

Looking ahead

Got some good gaming ideas for 2018.  We’ve got a couple of games from Christmas that we’ve not had a chance to play yet – Sherlock Holmes, the card game, for one.  We’ve got a few RPGs on the shelf that we need to play – Tales from the Loop, Traveller, Space: 1889, Timewatch.  They’re all going to get outings in 2018.

What are your gaming hauls from Christmas?

Who’s sock is this?

I was never a Scout, Cub, Beaver, whatever.  Don’t know why, apparently my dad was involved in some respect, I only found this out after his death in the reaping that was 2016.  Sheesh, he was in good company that year – I think the same week did for Alan Rickman and David Bowie.  So I never really understood what it was all about.  I figured camping was involved, probably fires, knots were pretty important, singing.  Left-handed handshakes.  And Bear Grylls.   I spent the bulk of those years reading Tolkein, Donaldson, Aligheri, and Adams so my life might’ve been significantly different had I been involved in Cubs!

So after a couple of years of taking my kids to Beavers / Cubs / Scouts / Explorers, I answered their pack’s call for volunteers and joined 1st Thurlby as Assistant Leader to the Cubs section.  In hindsight, a few months (years?) as a parent helper might’ve been a good idea but I figure if you’re going to fill a Friday evening, might as well go all in.  The weekend just past was my first experience of a Cub camp.  And it was an experience.  2 nights at Walesby Forest Activity Centre with the whole of the Stamford and Bourne district…

Questions you find yourself asking…

  • Who’s sock is this?
  • No, really, who’s sock is this?
  • It’s got to belong to one of you six, there’s only been you in this tent this weekend?  Who’s sock is it?
  • Well, where did you last see your necker? (Or sleeping roll, or sleeping bag cover, whatever they’ve mislaid)
  • Has everyone got their packed lunch?
  • Were you not listening when I asked if everyone had their lunch?
  • Have you looked in your tent?
  • Have you really looked in your tent?
  • Is that it there?
  • Where’s my bed?  We were promised beds!

And many, many more.

Ah, the glamorous life of a Cubs pack leader on camp.  Sleeping under canvas, meeting new people, exploring new worlds and new civilisations.  Well, maybe not the last one.

There are things you’ll get used to:

  • Repeating yourself
  • Counting to 10 (or 100) in your head
  • Taking a deep breath and schooling your face before turning round
  • Head-counts
  • Being asked the same question a dozen times by 4 different Cubs
  • Never drinking a hot cup of tea (but I have a solution for that)
  • Doing what needs to be done, doesn’t matter who’s job it’s supposed to be

There are things you won’t get used to (or, at least I hope I won’t):

  • The thrill when one of “your” Cubs does something they didn’t think they could do
  • The thrill when one of “your” Cubs does something you most definitely couldn’t do! (I’m looking at the Leap of Faith here!)
  • Silence on the campsite (that’s just weird)
  • The sheer quantity of sweets 23 Cubs can consume
  • An earnest “Thank you” from someone you talked to
  • The wall of tiredness that hits about an hour after you get home

Would I do it again?  In an instant.  But next time, I’ll be better prepared.  I’ve got a personal kit list now to augment anything I’m given:

  • Camp bed – I’m too old to be sleeping on a roll on the floor.
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Tabasco / other chilli-based condiment of your choice

Long story short, if your local packs are looking for leaders and you think you might want to give it a go, do it.  Get involved.   I’m knackered, I ache in places I didn’t realise existed, and I can’t wait to do it again.

How Quickly You Forget

You!  Yes, you.  The one leaning on their horn as Thing1 stalls at the traffic lights.  The clue is right there in front of you, the big, red, “L” on a white square.  This is a learner driver!  You don’t know whether they’ve been driving a car for 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 weeks…  And horning off like that?  Who does it help?  Does piling pressure on a new driver make the task of setting off without stalling any easier?  Does that sound magically mean they’re now imbued with your own prodigious driving talent?

Let’s rewind to your learner days, shall we?  Stalling at roundabouts, pulling out suddenly – and unwisely – at junctions, crawling along at 43 mph on the open road.  Were you perfect?  Did you spring, fully-formed, from the loins of the Stig, quoting the Highway Code ? No, of course you weren’t, and clearly you didn’t.  But you’d forgotten, hadn’t you?

We forget, selectively at times, what our own experiences were like.

The old man, clearly a father, probably a grandfather, getting cross with the toddler for daring to make a noise?  Were your children perfect?  Were you perfect?  Of course you weren’t.  Do you think your displeasure is going to make that kids’ parents think (a) “Oh, how kind of him to show how much he cares, what a nice old man!” or (b) “Shut up, you miserable old git, I’m trying here!”  And consider the location – perhaps they’ve come along to church, halving the average age of the congregation at a stroke and giving the priest some hope that their church has a future.  Do you think your attitude helps?

So cut people some slack.  The “L”, or the “P” that follows it for a year should be a bloody great giveaway that someone’s not been driving as long as you have.  Relax.  That the kid playing with the toys is there in church at all should make you happy.  Unless it’s the 8AM BCP, in which case “happy” is an alien concept and it’s not the most kid-friendly service!

Think how much better the world would be if we were all a little nicer to each other.  If we all remembered what it was like to be in that situation.