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Part 2 of our Family Board Game Championship took us up to the end of February. March has been a bit busy so we’ve only completed nine games in that period. Here’s a summary of how they went.

34. WILD LIFE (Alga 1964)

Wild Life is a very old set collection game where you’re trying to fill your zoo with 12 pre-determined animals. I got off to good start but Flick pulled it back towards the end until she was hit with a card that restricted her movement to just one dice and that killed any chance of her getting home to her zoo before I got to mine. Despite its age I really like this game.

Overall: Flick 16 Paul 9 Kirsty 8

35. MONOPOLY (Hasbro 2003)

We played the London Nostalgia edition from 2003, which I’d won at a work raffle. We also agreed to play the shorter version, where each player is dealt two properties to begin with and we play for a set time of one hour. The game was a bit nervy as no-one was able to gain control of any one colour. About halfway through I picked up Park Lane but struggled to get anywhere near Mayfair. I eventually got it with about 10 minutes to go but it was too little too late as Kirsty had already amassed a huge portfolio of properties. I managed to get two houses on Mayfair and one on Park Lane but it wasn’t enough to make a difference. By the time the gamed ended I had only £37 in cash because I’d blown it all on houses! Score: K £4785 F £1858 P £2397

Overall: Flick 16 Paul 9 Kirsty 9

36. MAPMINOES (UK) (Wild Card Games 2011)

A week after a casual game of this edition we embarked on a Championship match. This particular version played a lot differently to the previous one. We started in Aberdeenshire, completed Scotland, moved into England and then Northern Ireland before Wales made an appearance. This is one of the bigger versions of the game and space on our table was very limited. When I had two cards left, which joined each other, I spotted a space out of nowhere and I was able to add Durham and Tyne & Wear to Cumbria. Phew! A close (and much-needed) win for me as Flick only had one card left and Kirsty two.

Overall: Flick 16 Paul 10 Kirsty 9

37. FORMULA D (Asmodee 2008)

I was tailed off the last time we played Formula D but it was a different story this time. I gained pole position and, despite Flick’s car breathing down my neck most of the way, I was never behind and won reasonably comfortably. I don’t think playing with 3 players gets the best out of this game. Five or six players, with more cars jostling for position, would make this a more exciting game. With so few players there is a tendency for one player to dominate and catching up is difficult no matter how lucky you are with the dice.

Overall: Flick 16 Paul 11 Kirsty 9

38. TAXI BOARD GAME: Greater Manchester (Taxi Board Game 2020)

We mostly stuck to the UK questions for our first outing with this version of the game. About halfway through the game Flick lost all her money bar her £20 float (thanks to one of the Give or Take cards) and that was the end of her challenge. A couple of bad decisions on Give or Takes and an expensive trip along the diversion saw my effort also fade with Kirsty winning well. Score: K £169 F £36 P £132

Overall: Flick 16 Paul 11 Kirsty 10

39. TICKET TO RIDE: Legendary Asia (Days of Wonder 2011)

This was a tale of one card. I was one single card away from completing a big route and possibly winning the game but Flick scuppered my chances with her last shot. After I finally completed my two main routes, including a big one, I had a handful of cards and was praying I picked up Perm to Irkutsk as one of my routes. I did but that solitary card short cost me a much-needed win. A tale of what might have been. Score: K 97 F 119 P 114

Overall: Flick 17 Paul 11 Kirsty 10

40. TIMELINES: Music & Cinema (Asmodee 2013)

I’m rubbish at Timelines but there’s one version that I have decent chance of doing okay at and that’s the Music and Cinema edition. That’s the theory anyway. Sadly I had, quite frankly, a bit of a shocker. Making daft mistakes, being a year or two out here and there, and in the end I won just one hand. Kirsty and Flick shared the spoils and I took myself off to a darkened room to ponder where it had all gone wrong. Score: K 5 F 5 P 1.

Overall: Flick 17.5 Paul 11 Kirsty 10.5

41. TICKET TO RIDE: Nordic Countries (Days of Wonder 2007)

The Nordic Countries edition is one of our favourites although it’s also unforgiving. Key areas need to be obtained early or your plans will go up in smoke. My risky strategy of keeping a very long route to fulfill (in the hope it encompassed a bunch of shorter route drawn later) almost paid off. But, once again Flick’s last shot, which I should have seen coming, scuppered it. In a familiar scenario I was one card short as Flick played the very long Murmansk to Lieksa route using up her remaining 9 trains. However, it wasn’t enough for victory as Kirsty got the bonus for the most routes to claim the win. Another story of what might have been for me, despite what the final score suggests. It took me three attempts to get Bergen to Oslo and that wasted two valuable turns. Score: K 134 F 118 P 86

Overall: Flick 17.5 Kirsty 11.5 Paul 11

42. UNO (Unknown 1971)

After agreeing to play first to 750, Kirsty won the first hand with a mighty score of 8. It took me ages to get off the mark but I only won a total of 3 hands in the end. I felt the girls were ganging up on me a bit as +4 after +4 came my way. I never really recovered and while Flick put up some resistant it only took Kirsty nine winning hands to reach 750. Score: K 803 F 552 P 261

Overall: Flick 17.5 Kirsty 12.5 Paul 11

Only one new game has arrived during part 3 of our Championship and that is RED RISING from Stonemaier Games. Too late for this championship but we should been up to speed with it by the time of the next one. There may also be be some Kickstarter games arriving by then too, including Sprawlopolis/Agropolis and maybe Cascadia and Caper: Europe too, although the latter is just a 2-player game. Next up in our championship will be…CENTURY: SPICE ROAD.

Throughout this year I’ve been posting my Album of the Day on my Facebook page. It’s been a great way to re-connect with some of my favourite albums, as well as giving me some great music to soundtrack my day.

Each post features a brief memory relating to the album or just my thoughts on the album itself. I’ve also listed a favourite track from each album, not always easy to choose, and made a Spotify playlist for them to accompany my daily walks. Occasionally tracks or whole albums are unavailable on Spotify and I’ve selected an alternative. In the case of 3/4-CD sets I’ve chosen, where possible, one from each CD.

Here are my choices for March 2021:

1 EASTERHOUSE – Contenders (Rough Trade 1986)

2 MARMALADE – Fine Cuts: The Best of Marmalade (Union Square 2011)

3 BABYBIRD – Ex-Maniac (Unison 2010)

4 RADIOHEAD – The Bends (Parlophone 1995)

5 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK – Grease (RSO 1978)

6 HUMAN LEAGUE – Dare (Virgin 1981)

7 ABBA – The Singles: The First Ten Years (Epic 1982)

8 SUGAR – Copper Blue (Creation 1992)

9 A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS – A Flock of Seagulls (Jive 1982)

10 LINDEN – Bleached Highlights (AED 2012)

11 BENNY PROFANE – Dumb Luck Charm/Trapdoor Swing (Imaginary 1990)

12 BE LIKE PABLO – The New Adventures (Stray Cat Records 2013)

13 LED ZEPPELIN – Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic 1969)

14 BLAKE BABIES – Sunburn (Mammoth 1990)

15 GRAM PARSONS – GP/Grievous Angel (Reprise 1990)

16 ROY ORBISON – The All-Time Greatest Hits (Monument 1972)

17 THE PRETENDERS – Pretenders (Real 1980)

18 PIXIES – Surfer Rosa (4AD 1988)

19 BARBARA RUSKIN – A Little of This: The Barbara Ruskin Songbook (President 2004)

20 TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS – Anthology: Through The Years (MCA 2000)

21 KID CANAVERAL – Shouting at Wildlife (Straight to Video 2010)

22 THE WALKER BROTHERS – After The Lights Go Out: The Best of 1965-1967 (Phonogram 1990)

23 ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA – Discovery (Jet 1979)

24 TEARS FOR FEARS – The Hurting (Mercury 1983)

25 MAN OR ASTROMAN – Is It Man… or Astroman? (Estrus 1993)

26 BIG STAR – #1 Record/Radio City (Big Beat/Ace 1990)

27 LESLEY GORE – California Nights (Mercury 1967/Ace 2015)

28 ABERFELDY – Young Forever (Rough Trade 2004)

29 BILLY JOEL – Greatest Hits Vol 1 & 2 (Columbia 1985)

30 THE THORNS – The Thorns (Aware 2003)

31 THE WOODENTOPS – Giant (Rough Trade 1986)

Some great memories associated with some of these albums. God speed to April and more aural delights.

Part 1 of our Family Board Game Championship took us up to mid January. Since then we’ve finished another 18 championship games as well as playing numerous other games and acquiring some new ones, many of which will appear in the next championship. A couple of those will be in the draw as we’ve made a couple of substitutions. HIVE has been replaced with newbie HONEY BUZZ and PANK-A-SQUITH has lost its place to the gorgeous PARKS.

16. VILLAGE GREEN (Osprey Games 2020)

“In Village Green, you are rival gardeners, tasked by your respective communities with arranging flowers, planting trees, commissioning statues, and building ponds.“ Yet again, what seems easy in principle is anything but. I just couldn’t get the right cards in this one while my opponents seem to be flying along. This game is very thinky! Flick remains in good form while I struggle. Plenty more games to go but my comeback needs to start soon! Score: Kirsty 29 Flick 35, Paul 16.

Overall: Flick 9 Kirsty 4 Paul 2

17. ORE-SOME (One Free Elephant 2017)

We picked up ORE-SOME at the Tabletop event in Perth in 2017. I was cheap (£15 I think) and we got some extra stuff with it. It’s a strategic game, played on a 5×5 grid of rail tracks set in a mine. There’s mining, shunting, looting and sabotage over six rounds. We should really play this game more often but it gets to the table once a year (during this championship) and every time we play it we realise that we need to play the 8 round version because 6 rounds is far too short. Again, Flick was out the blocks quickly, fulfilling contracts while I was struggling to get one. By the time I felt I was getting somewhere the game was over. It’s a good little game but we should really clear up some of the same rules queries we have ever time we play it. But it generally gets put away and we don’t see it until the next championship when we have the same issue again! While Flick seem to be cruising along with 4 contracts, Kirsty crept up on the rails and her combo of cash and contracts won her the game. Score: Kirsty $43 Flick $41 Paul $36.

Overall: Flick 9 Kirsty 5 Paul 2

18. MAPOMINOES (Asia and Australasia) (Wild Card Games 2008)

Another chance to regain some pride went a-beggin’ as I was once again dealt a terrible hand. So many unconnected islands. I love the MAPOMINOES games but if the dealing gods aren’t on your side there’s not much you can do.

Overall: Flick 9 Kirsty 6 Paul 2

19. BRUXELLES 1897 (Geek Attitude 2019)

In 1897, Art Nouveau is taking over the streets of Brussels as the World’s Fair opens its doors. The time has come to cement your name in the History of Art. To achieve all of this, you must construct magnificent buildings, create, sell and exhibit works of art, and shake hands with the city’s noblemen.”

We hadn’t played BRUXELLES 1897 since last July. I bought it as a surprise present for my wife after having seen it featured on a Shut Up and Sit Down video. Not long after getting it we saw that there was a playmat for the game. Playmats aren’t essential but they do add something to the experience. The only other playmat we have is for Splendour.  After hunting high and low and failing to find it we emailed publishers Geek Attitude on the off chance that they a copy lying around their store. We couldn’t believe it when they say that they did indeed having one and, yes, they’d sell it to us. Result! We even managed to strike a deal and they threw in the special First Player Mannekin Pis marker and the extra noble card celebrating King Leopold II. That was last August but we didn’t get the playmat (and game) to the table until February this year. We agreed on a practice game to get used to the long-forgotten rules again. For me, it finally clicked around the third round. Flick won the practice game, reaching 49 at the end of the scoring track. Her noble-heavy strategy paid off. Flick tried to repeat the strategy again but it didn’t quite come off. I concentrated on the art and houses. It paid off and I was victorious. Score: Paul 50 Kirsty 32 Flick 28

Overall: Flick 9 Kirsty 6 Paul 3

20. TICKET TO RIDE – INDIA (Days of Wonder 2011)

The India board for TICKET TO RIDE has been described as “mean” and so it proved. From the start it was all kicking off around Bombay. Thankfully that phase passed without too much trauma for me. Kirsty and Flick moved on to fight over tracks in the central area while I moved up the east coast to Jacobabad with half a mind on the 10 point bonus for the longest continuous route. There is also a Mandala bonus available if you can fulfil one of your routes but in two different ways without sharing tracks, essentially creating a circular route. After the early skirmishes I thought mandalas would be difficult to come by but I had a lightbulb moment and spotted the opportunity to get a couple. I sacrificed the chance to get new routes so I could concentrate on getting those bonuses and thankfully I succeeded. It kicked off between the girls when Flick took a route that got in the way of Kirsty’s plans. Flick and I both got two mandalas and I picked up the bonus for the longest continuous route (36 trains). Score:  Paul 137 Kirsty 104 Flick 83

Overall: Flick 9 Kirsty 6 Paul 3

21. TICKET TO RIDE – OLD WEST (Days of Wonder 2017)

Old West is one of our least played editions of Ticket to Ride but it’s still enjoyable. The variations from the base game are that you pick a starting point and each subsequent route you play must connect to one route you’ve already played. There are extra bonuses for placing cities and getting players to come through your cities to take the points they would normally earn. There’s also an Alvin the Alien variant, which we always play. Flick took control of that early doors and was assured of the bonus. There was only a small intersection of routes when Kirsty forced me into a detour. Turned out I should’ve gone that way anyway! Flick was pretty much unchallenged in her routes and romped to a straightforward win. Score: Flick 131 Paul 104 Kirsty 96

Overall: Flick 10 Kirsty 6 Paul 3

22. ABANDON ALL ARTICHOKES (Gamewright 2020)

ABANDON ALL ARTICHOKES was our go-to elevenses game over much of the lockdown last year. We stopped when we’d played it 100 times but we still get it out now and again. It was nip and tuck for a while but finally the carrots fell for me and I took a much-needed victory.

Overall: Flick 10 Kirsty 6 Paul 4

23. ALLEGRO (Carl Fischer 1977)

ALLEGRO is a very old game – over 40 years old – about collecting composers and their works. It also involves a hell of a lot maths. It tends to get played once a year but it didn’t take long to get back into our stride. I started off reasonably well but losing Mendelssohn scuppered any chances of victory and I was going through the motions for the rest of the game. It was a straight shootout between Flick and Kirsty and Kirsty was only five pieces of work away from a win when tragedy struck and she had to forfeit almost all her cash. Flick couldn’t contain her laughter – she’s evil that way. Within a couple of rounds Flick got all 60 works she needed and the game was done.

Overall: Flick 11 Kirsty 6 Paul 5

24. HERD MENTALITY (Big Potato 2020)

HERD MENTALITY is a fun, party game. Players answer a question e.g. Name a famous redhead. Each player writes down their answer then they’re revealed. All those who agree get a cow token. If you’re the lone wolf you get nothing and you have to take the big pink cow. The first to eight cow tokens wins but you can’t win if you’re in possession of the big pink cow. It’s a fun little filler game. After the championship game we played it three more times. Thankfully I won the important one and drew level with Kirsty, although we’re both still five games adrift of runaway leader Flick.

Overall: Flick 11 Kirsty 6 Paul 6

25. FLAGGO! (FLAGGO Ltd 2010)

I started well but Kirsty soon took the lead and in a some fortuitous move she secured her last two letters in one go. Boom! Game over. FLAGGO! featured on Dragons Den a few years back and was unsuccessful. It’s quite old fashioned – roll dice, move, answer questions and collect letters – but we picked it up for £5 in a local charity shop so can’t complain.

Overall: Flick 11 Kirsty 7 Paul 6

26. MARIPOSAS (AEG 2020)

Like FLAGGO I got off to a decent start and felt reasonably in control of my butterflies. I was wary of going too far north so I could get some back to base by the end. I managed to get three home and that helped stave off a late charge from Kirsty. Mariposas is such a beautiful game and is very thematic. Another winner from Elizabeth Hargrave, designer of Wingspan. Score: P 34 K 31 F 24

Overall: Flick 11 Kirsty 7 Paul 7

27. TICKET TO RIDE: LONDON (Days of Wonder 2019)

A decent opening hand can make or break this shortened version of TICKET TO RIDE and so it proved. I had a chance to do well but Kirsty acquire a route I was after and I struggled thereafter. Flick seemed in control of what she was doing and had a reasonably comfortable win. Score: K 31 F 43 P 25

Overall: Flick 12 Kirsty 7 Paul 7

28. LOVE LETTER (AEG 2012)

After a good start I fell away and Flick romped to victory. LOVE LETTER is a great little filler game. Score: F 5 K 3 P 1

Overall: Flick 13 Kirsty 7 Paul 7

29. TAXI! BOARD GAME: THE OPEN (Taxi Board Game 2020)

Being one of the newer versions of the game, each question card, on which you can earn a £4 tip, has a choice between a golf question about The Open or a general knowledge question. We chose general knowledge every time! Flick got hit with the “lose all your cash except your £20 float” Give or Take card and her chance of victory hit the rough. Score: K £212 F £24 P £140

Overall: Flick 13 Kirsty 8 Paul 7

30. TAXI! BOARD GAME: NEW YORK (Taxi Board Game 2016)

You way ages for an edition of the TAXI! BOARD GAME to turn up and then you get two in a row.A tighter game all round but I always felt I was chasing the others. Score: K £134 F £160 P £127

Overall: Flick 14 Kirsty 8 Paul 7

31. TICKET TO RIDE: JAPAN (Days of Wonder 2019)

My early strategy of contributing as much as possible to building the shinkansen in TICKET TO RIDE: JAPAN paid off as I sealed the 15 point bonus before I’d use one of my own trains. Having completed the very long  Hiroshima to Hakodate route gave me the security to try and get other lines utilising this one, including an ever longer one. While Flick managed an astonishing 12 routes to take the lead at the final count my +15 bonus and her -5 loss turned the result in my favour. Score: K 84 F 90 P 96

Overall: Flick 14 Kirsty 8 Paul 8

32. MAPOMINOES: USA (Wild Card Games 2017)

With only 51 cards – the 50 states plus Washington DC – the USA edition of MAPOMINOES is was always going to be a tight  game. Everyone was wary on leaving room for double shots and in the end Flick won by a single state.

Overall: Flick 15 Kirsty 8 Paul 8

33. CARCASSONNE (Z-Man 2000)

CARCASSONNE is a modern classic and we really don’t play it often enough. When it does get played I really enjoy it. I started this game very well and took a decent lead. Unfortunately that all changed in the last two or three turns. Flick needed one tile to complete a big city and earn a huge score. Kirsty, who was playing before Flick, picked up that very tile and Flick thought her chances of victory were over. Luckily for her the tile she picked up on her own shot was the exact same tile and she was able to place it in the middle of eight other tiles in her city and notched up a mighty 26 points. I didn’t have time to recover and lost by 3 points. Score: K 56 F 77 P 74

Overall: Flick 16 Kirsty 8 Paul 8

So with 32 games played (the postponed LOST RUINS OF ARNAK hasn’t been rescheduled yet although Kirsty and I did get it to the table last Sunday and really enjoyed it) Flick has taken a strong grip grip of this championship and Kirsty and I are going to have to string a run of games together to get back into it. Game 34 will be…(dramatic drum roll)…(presses button on random number generator app)…WILDLIFE, another golden oldie, rescued from the garage.

Throughout this year I’ve been posting my Album of the Day on my Facebook page. It’s been a great way to re-connect with some of my favourite albums, as well as giving me some great music to soundtrack my day.

Each post features a brief memory relating to the album or just my thoughts on the album itself. I’ve also listed a favourite track from each album, not always easy to choose, and made a Spotify playlist for them to accompany my daily walks. Occasionally tracks or whole albums are unavailable on Spotify and I’ve selected an alternative. In the case of 3/4-CD sets I’ve chosen, where possible, one from each CD.

Here are my choices for February 2021:

1 Agent blå – Agent blå (Luxury 2017)

2 American Spring – Spring…plus (See For Miles 1989)

3 Squeeze – East Side Story (A&M 1981)

4 Various Artists – Where The Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968 (Rhino 2009)

5 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge 2010)

6 Teenage Fanclub – Grand Prix (Creation 1995)

7 Phil Spector – Back to Mono (1958-1969) (ABKCO 1991)

8 Roddy Frame – Surf (Redemption 2002)

9 Scott McCarl – Play On (Titan 1997)

10 The Action – Ultimate Action (Edsel 1990)

11 Pete Yorn – musicforthemorningafter (Columbia 2001)

12 Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister (Jeepster 1996)

13 Soft Cell – Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret (Some Bizzare 1981)

14 Love – Forever Changes (Elektra 1967)

15 Jackie Leven – Oh What a Blow That Phantom Dealt Me (Cooking Vinyl 2006)

16 Snowgoose – Harmony Springs (Open Hearth 2012)

17 The Raspberries – Raspberries (Capitol 1972)

18 Jacke DeShannon – Keep Me in Mind: The Complete Liberty and Imperial Singles Volume 3 (Ace 2012)

19 The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (Capitol 1966)

20 Talk Talk – The Colour of Spring (EMI 1986)

21 TeenCanteen – Say It All With a Kiss (Last Night from Glasgow 2017)

22 Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York (DGC 1994)

23 Lou Reed – Transformer (RCA 1972)

24 Withered Hands – New Gods (Fortuna 2014)

25 The Carpenters – The Singles 1969-1973 (A&M 1973)

26 Kenny Lynch – Nothing But The Real Thing: The Best of 1960-1969 (RPM 2004)

27 The Byrds – Fifth Dimension (Columbia 1966)

28 Cocteau Twins – Treasure (4AD 1984)

An eclectic choice, I’m sure you’ll agree. I tend to plan the selection about four weeks in advance. It was purely coincidence that Love was chosen for Valentine’s Day!

Throughout January I’ve been posting my Album of the Day on my Facebook page. It’s been a great way to re-connect with some of my favourite albums, as well as giving me some great music to soundtrack my day.

I’ve also listed a favourite track from each album, not always easy to choose, and made a Spotify playlist for them to accompany my daily walks. Occasionally tracks or whole albums are unavailable on Spotify and I’ve selected an alternative. In the case of 3/4-CD sets I’ve chosen, where possible, one form each.

Here are my choices for January 2021:

January

1 Aztec Camera – High Land Hard Rain (Rough Trade 1984)

2 The Sugababes – Overloaded: The Singles Collection (Island 2006)

3 Kate Bush – The Kick Inside (EMI 1978)

4 Ella Washington – Nobody But Me (Charly 1987)

5 The Smiths – The Smiths (Rough Trade 1984)

6 Dusty Springfield – Dusty in Memphis (Atlantic 1968)

7 The Bodines – Played (Magnet 1987)

8 Various Artists – Measure For Measure: The John Carter Anthology 1961-1977 (RPM 2003)

9 The Four Tops – Singles Collection (Polygram 1992)

10 Counting Crows – Recovering The Satellites (Geffen 1996)

11 The Orchids – Striving For The Lazy Perfection (Sarah 1994)

12 Marc and the Mambas – Torment and Toreros (Some Bizzare 1983)

13 Prefab Sprout – Swoon (Kitchenware 1984)

14 The Wondermints – Wondermints (Toy’s Factory 1995)

15 Dexys Midnight Runners – Searching For The Young Soul Rebels (EMI 1980)

16 Various Artists – Dance Craze (2-Tone 1981)

17 Elton John – Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (DJM 1973)

18 The Popguns – Snog (Midnight Music 1990)

19 Scott Walker – Scott 4 (Fontana 1992)

20 Various Artists – One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost & Found (Rhino 2005)

21 Silver Sun – Silver Sun (Polydor 1997)

22 The Sundays – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (Rough Trade 1990)

23 Billy Bragg – Life’s a Riot With Spy Versus Spy (Utility/Go! Discs 1983)

24 The Blue Nile – A Walk Across The Rooftops (Linn 1984)

25 BMX Bandits – Star Wars (Vinyl Japan 1991)

26 Public Service Broadcasting – Inform Educate Entertain (Test Card Recordings 2013)

27 Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (Tamla 1971)

28 The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (Silvertone 1989)

29 Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (4AD 2009)

30 Nick Garrie – The Nightmare of JB Stanislas (Disc AZ 1968)

31 One Thousand Violins – One Thousand Violins (Immaculate 1988)

The selections vary between ones that I think are great, ones I enjoy regularly and ones that mean a lot to me, usually offering up great memories from the time I first bought them or played them or first heard them. There are also a number of compilations, including some “greatest hits”, for example, The Four Tops Singles Collection, which was the first CD I remember owning. I sill have it. Some of the compilations that will appear throughout the year will be 3 or 4 CD box sets, e.g. the excellent “One Kiss Can Lead to Another” box set which is aesthetically and musically superb.

Each month I’ll post the full list for the month.

Every year, over Hogmanay and New Year’s Day, we have a family Board Game Decathlon, where we select ten games at random and play them. Two points for a win, 1 point for second and nothing for third. The player with the most points wins. Our board game collection has now grown to such a size that we started having a larger Family Board Game Championship whereby we play almost every game we have and, once again, the player with the most victories is declared the winner. One of the main reasons for this expanded tournament is that we had a tendency to play the same games over and over and many would simply sit on the shelves gathering dust. This way they would all get played once, maybe twice a year, at least. Our “Shelf of Shame” now only consists of new purchases we haven’t got round to learning/playing yet.

Our daughter won the first of the bigger tournaments in 2019 and I won in 2020. Lockdown has meant more time to play games and more disposal income to buy them too (a number were won in competitions as well). This year’s starting line-up consists of 130 games of varying types. We used a number randomiser app (Random UX) to select the next game and we stick to it religiously, unless there’s a good reason for postponement.

Here are the results so far…

1. TICKET TO RIDE: EUROPA 1912 (Days of Wonder 2009)

It’s somewhat fitting that the first game chosen by the Random UX app was one of the 24 editions of Ticket to Ride represented in the competition. The 1912 expansion of Europe has three different variations to choose from and we plumped for Mega, which features all the cards (original and 1912 expansion), including a number of duplicate routes. One faux pas nearly cost me dearly when I forgot that double routes weren’t in play as I tried to replicate Flick’s route from London to Edinburgh. I got away with it by playing a station and eventually secured the 10-point longest route bonus to win by 20 points. Score: Kirsty (Yellow) 136 Flick (Red) 113 Paul (Green) 156

Overall: Paul 1 Flick 0 Kirsty 0

2. FLAMME ROUGE: PELOTON (Lautapelit.fi 2019)

Kirsty and I hadn’t played Flamme Rouge since our recreation of the 2020 Tour de France where, thanks to a file on Board Game Geek, we did all three weeks of the Tour de France with reproductions of each stage – 21 games of Flamme Rouge over 21 days! By the end we didn’t want to see the game again.

We drew out the Peloton expansion, which adds feed zones (extra lane) and hills. I made a fatal mistake in allowing my sprinter to lose touch with the main peloton and I wasn’t able to recover. By the time I got back to the main peloton Flick’s sprinter had already made its move and flown the coop. I managed to grab second and third on the stage with my sprinter and rouleur but “chapeau” to Flick who timed her late charge to perfection for an excellent victory.

Overall: Paul 1 Flick 1 Kirsty 0

3. MAPOMINOES: AMERICAS (N&S) (Wild Card Games 2010)

One of the shorter versions of Mapominoes but quite tricky as there are a number of islands to negotiate in the Caribbean. Despite drawing half of the 12 South American countries I couldn’t get them played early and I was left with three in my hand as Flick romped to victory once again. This is a great card game and features versions for Europe, USA, UK, Africa, Asia & Australasia. A great way to teach kids about world geography.

Overall : Flick 2 Paul 1 Kirsty 0

4. AZUL (Next Move 2017)

Quite a ‘thinky’ game involving tile placement to decorate you “palace”. Flick took an early lead and never looked like being caught. I got a horizontal line first (which ended the game) but on reflection I should’ve held off to gain more points first. Lesson learned. Score: K 30 F 46 P 36

Overall: Flick 3 Paul 1 Kirsty 0

5. TAXI! BOARD GAME: Hibernian FC (Taxi! Board Game 2018)

You would think that having written many questions for this game and edited them all I’d be quids in for a victory. You would think that but you’d be wrong. If the dice and cards don’t go your way then there’s not much you can do. The Sound Off cards are where the big money can be made but I didn’t get them often enough. A first win for Kirsty who avoided her nemesis, the Diversion! Score: K £146 F £118 P £101

Overall: Flick 3 Paul 1 Kirsty 1

6. DISCOVERING EUROPE (Gosling Games)

A few months back I won a £100 voucher for Smyths toy shop. While I was able to pick up a couple of PS4 games for Flick’s Christmas the board game selection wasn’t great. There were certainly plenty of them but most were either aimed at children/families or were variations of old standards like Monopoly/Cluedo. Eventually we found two interesting games; Disney Villainous (still on our Shelf of Shame) and Discovering Europe, which played very much like the London Board Game. We had a trial game first to make sure we knew what we were doing. We picked it up easily. Essentially, the first to reach their six European destinations won. We enjoyed the practice game so much we decided to have eight destinations instead of the standard six. After a solid start I got a bit bogged down when my last three destinations couldn’t have been further apart. Kirsty quietly went about her business and picked up her second consecutive win.

Overall: Flick 3 Kirsty 2 Paul 1

7. EUROVISION SONG CONTEST (Just Game 2018)

From one Europe themed game to another. This is another roll-move-answer questions game, the kind unfairly looked down upon by board game snobs. It has the added twist of being split into two parts. The first half of the game you form your band, costume, staging and style of music by answering multiple choice Eurovision questions of varying degrees of difficulty. The second is a sort of auction to gain the extra vote points needed to secure victory. I chose Norway and Italy, Flick was Australia and Iceland and Kirsty stuck to the neighbours Sweden and Denmark. Denmark, Iceland and Italy were within five points of each before the first round bonuses were added. Going into the final round it was Denmark’s to lose but Iceland stormed through to collect 30 points (to Denmark’s 12) in the last round to finish on 345 points. Flick’s other country Australia finished second on 342 and Denmark took third with 337. Italy (4th), Norway (5th) and Sweden (6th) fell away. Normally I do well at this game but I just couldn’t get going. Flick run of form continued. Her knowledge of Eurovision since 2004 is impressive.

Overall: Flick 4 Kirsty 2 Paul 1

8. QWIRKLE: Travel Size (MindWare 2006)

Qwirkle is another fun abstract game involving colours, shapes and board placement. This is my kind of game. I started well but then halfway through Kirsty and I were hit by a Flick-sized Qwirkle storm as she scored a maximum 12 points (known as a “Qwirkle”) eight times in ten turns to bolt away from us. Just to rub it in she finished with one too. I managed two in a row and Kirsty got two near the end but we were never going to catch Flick. Score: K 107 F 172 P 120

Overall: Flick 5 Kirsty 2 Paul 1

9. LOST RUINS OF ARNAK (Czech Games Edition 2020)

I won Lost Ruins of Arnak in a competition run by Czech Games Edition during the digital version of Essen Spiel. It took a while to arrive and then was further delayed by some missing pieces. This game was picked by the app but we hadn’t played it yet and we knew a walk through (and then a proper game) of it might take two or three hours so we’ve delayed playing it until we’ve found a Sunday morning during which we can learn it.

10. TICKET TO RIDE: NEW YORK (Days of Wonder 2018)

The second edition of Ticket to Ride to be drawn out of the hat/app was one of the smaller editions, featuring not trains but the iconic yellow cabs of New York. With such a short game (15-20 minutes) there’s never a lot of time to recover if you have a bad start. My initial two cards didn’t complement each other and I struggled. Initially Flick (blue) and I (purple) seemed to battling for space in the North and Kirsty (yellow) had the South to herself. I was one train off completing a third route into Brooklyn (Flick managed four routes) and any chance of victory was gone. Final score: Kirsty 33 Flick 39 Paul 21

Overall: Flick 6 Kirsty 2 Paul 1

11. TARANTEL TANGO (ADC Blackfire 2009)

I hate games like this. Okay, ‘hate’ is a strong word. I’m shite at games like this. It has an element of patting your head while rubbing your stomach about it. It also involves speed, which I’m not renowned for. In their efforts to slap the table (whenever a tarantula card appeared) both Kirsty and Flick injured themselves. I had no sympathy for them. A win for Kirsty. A mercifully short game. Let’s move on…

Overall: Flick 6 Kirsty 3 Paul 1

12. SEQUENCE (Goliath Games 2019)

Our neighbour gave us this game last year after her kids decided it wasn’t really for them. It sat unplayed for a few months on our Shelf of Shame before we decided to add it to the Championship roster. We’re so glad we did. A fun variation on Connect 4 which does require some strategy and a bit of luck. Having never played it before we had one warm up game to get used to it. Flick won this. She repeated the feat in the ‘real’ game when both Kirsty and I were down to five cards having been penalised for forgetting to pick up a card after we played a counter. The girl who claims to hate strategy games seems to be quite good at them!

Overall: Flick 7 Kirsty 3 Paul 1

13. THE MAGNIFICENT FLYING MACHINE RALLY (The Master Herbalist)

A simple little game we got from Past Times many years/decades ago. Not a lot of skill involved which might explain why I was able to get my second win on the board in a very quick game.

Overall: Flick 7 Kirsty 3 Paul 2

14. UNO: EXTREME (Mattel 1999)

With 500 points being too small a target and 1000 too many we compromised on a target of 750 to win. The machine needed a battery change as it wasn’t spitting out cards as it should. The replacement ones weren’t much better. Kirsty starting off like a train scoring 189 in the first hand. Flick kept pace with her most of the way but I was always lagging behind. I only managed one hand over 150. Score: Kirsty 768 Flick 635 Paul 555

Overall: Flick 7 Kirsty 4 Paul 2

15. CALICO (Flatout Games 2020)

Another strategic placement game that we got during 2020. You have to place patterns and colours on a quilt while trying to pick up bonuses for sets of each. As they say, easy to learn and difficult to master. Once again a good start was stopped in its track when it turned out Flick and I were after the same tile (dark blue crosses). There are only three of each and Flick got to it first. Any chance I had of winning went out the window. By the time I got one the damage had been done. Score: Kirsty 50 Flick 57 Paul 38.

Overall: Flick 8 Kirsty 4 Paul 2

Next up…Village Green

For many years now I have posted a Christmas Musical Advent calendar on my Facebook page. This year was no exception and I also posted one on my Where The Action Is (Radio Show) Facebook page, relating to choices from the late 50s through to the 1970s, the eras covered by my old radio show. My one on my personal Facebook page covered the late 70s through to the modern day. I’ve included my selections for Christmas Day itself, although I forgot to post them on the day. I was somewhat distracted by new books, CDs and board games, amongst other things. You know how it is.

My Where The Action Is (Radio Show) Christmas Advent calendar:

1The Beach Boys – The Man With All The Toys (Capitol 1964)
2James Brown – Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto (King 1968)
3The Band – Christmas Must Be Tonight (Capitol 1977)
4Nina Van Pallandt – Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown? (CBS 1969) 
5The Flirtations – Christmas Time Is Here Again (Deram 1968)
6Diane Ray – Snow Man (Mercury 1963)
7The Majority – All Our Christmases (Decca 1968)
8The Who – Christmas (Polydor 1975)
9Valerie Masters – Christmas Calling (Columbia 1964)
10The Lollipops – Mister Santa (Warner Bros 1959)
11American Spring – Snowflakes (Unreleased 1972)
12The Kinks – Father Christmas (Arista 1977)
13Twice As Much/Vashti Bunyan – The Coldest Night of the Year (Immediate 1968)
14Margo Guryan – I Don’t To Spend Christmas Without You (Demo 1967)
15Adam Faith – Lonely Pup (In a Christmas Shop) (Parlophone 1960)
16Keith West – Sam (Parlophone 1967)
17The Wailers – She’s Coming Home (Etiquette 1965)
18Bryan Taylor – Let It Snow on Christmas Day (Piccadilly 1961)
19The Orchids – Christmas Is The Time To Be With Your Baby (Columbia 1964)
20Bobby Goldsboro – Look Around (It’s Christmas Time) (United Artists 1968)
21Brian Hyland – It’s Christmas Time Once Again (Dot 1967)
22Lisa Miller – The Loneliest Christmas Tree (Canterbury 1967)
23France Gall – Il Neige (Philips 1966)
24Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (Philles 1963)
25Big Star – Jesus Christ (Stax 1975)

My Personal Facebook Christmas Advent Calendar:

1Julian Casablancas – I Wish It Was Christmas Today (Rough Trade 2009)
2Whyte Horses – Next Year Will Be Mine (CRC Records 2018)
3Sia – Candy Cane Lane (Atlantic/Monkey Puzzle 2017)
4KT Tunstall – Mele Kalikilmaka (Restless 2007)
5Low – Just Like Christmas (Tugboat 1999)
6Guille Milkyway And The Jelly Jamm Sound Orchestra – Holding Hands Around The World (Elefant 2012)
7Tracey Thorn – Joy (Strange Feeling 2012)
8Badly Drawn Boy – Donna and Blitzen (Twisted Nerve 2001)
9Rufus Wainwright – Spotlight On Christmas (Nettwerk 2003)
10Liam and Me – Winter Paradise (I Miss You This Christmas) (2006)
11The Primitives – You Trashed My Christmas (Elefant 2012)
12Kelly Clarkson – Underneath The Tree (RCA 2013)
13The Kaisers – Merry Christmas Loopy Lu (Norton 1996)
14Meiko – Merry Christmas Wherever You Are (Digital single 2018)
15Holly Golightly – The Christmas Tree’s On Fire (Damaged Goods 2006)
16The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping (Ze 1981)
17Meghan Trainor – Naughty List (Epic/Honest OG 2020)
18Eels – Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas (DreamWorks 1998)
19Radiophonic Tuckshop – The Wonder of Christmas (Last Night From Glasgow 2017)
20Britney Spears – My Only Wish (This Year) (Jive 2000)
21The Wedding Present – Holly Jolly Hollywood (Vibrant 2008)
22Fountains of Wayne – The Man In The Santa Suit (Atlantic 1997)
23Shonen Knife – Space Christmas (Seminal Twang 1991)
24Cocteau Twins – Frosty The Snowman (4AD 1993)
25Davitt Sigerson – It’s a Big Country (Ze 1981)

I try to mix it up each year but I do tend to fall back on some old favourites. So many great festive tunes that don’t get the recognition this deserve. The current UK Top 100 singles chart features 59 songs (give or take a couple I’m not sure about) regarded as festive offerings. Mariah Carey finally made it to number 1 in December after a 26-year wait with All I Want For Christmas is You although Wham’s Last Christmas once again took on the always-the-bridesmaid-never-the-bride role having also failed to dislodge Band Aid’s Do They Know Its Christmas in 1984.

I find it bizarre that a perennial favourite such as The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping still hasn’t peaked higher than 45 in the UK singles charts, which was during its second release as a single in 1982 (I have that version on white vinyl, as pictured above). In 2018 it faltered at 46. Even during the modern era where the festive perennials tend to return to the charts, it’s limped in to the lower end of the listings at a measly number 89. Considering some of the Christmas tunes above it, that’s nothing short of scandalous.

GAMES| Review of 2020

We love playing board games in our house and 2020, for better or worse, has given us an excuse and the time to play even more. We didn’t need an excuse but we look advantage anyway.

Our Top 20 most played games (from 1 January to 21 December 2020):
1. Abandon All Artichokes (100 plays)
2=. Wingspan – European (54)
2=. Wingspan – Oceania (54)
4. Port Royal (46)
5. Scrabble (45)
6. Wingspan – Base game (30)
7. Flamme Rouge (24)
8=. Point Salad (16)
8=. Tiny Towns (16)
10. Sushi Go! (15)
11. Tussie Mussie (8)
12. Everdell (7)
13=. Circle The Wagons (6)
13=. Ohanami (6)
13=. Ticket to Ride – France/Old West (6)
16=. Ticket to Ride – USA (5)
16=. Ticket to Ride – India/Switzerland (5)
16=. Ticket to Ride – UK/Pennsylvania (5)
16=. Ticket to Ride – Japan/Italy (5)
16=. Ticket to Ride – Poland (5)

We’ve played 126 different games, including expansions, for a total of 679 plays.

We’ve played so many games because we have a couple of family board game championships throughout the year. This gives us a chance to play many of the games we like that don’t make it to the table as often as our current favourites. We have 100 games in the championship and use a random number generator to pick each one. Flick won the championship that ran from Autumn through Winter last year, I took the mini one at New Year (we select just 10 games at random) and Flick and I tied for the Spring-Summer tournament this year. We’ve acquired (bought and won) so many new games in 2020 that we’re going to have to expand the list to 110, at least.

A lot of these games have been bought as a result of a number of excellent internet resources that provide information and entertainment on the tabletop gaming scene. My favourites are: Average Joe’s Gaming Podcast (from Tom and Joe based in South Dakota), Shut Up and Sit Down (based in the UK), The Dice Tower, Things Get Dicey (hilarious game related sketches and songs from Paula Deming) and Watch It Played (excellent tutorials from Rodney Smith). I also enjoyed the live Facebook playthroughs from AEG games of Tiny Towns, Santa Monica and Space Base.

As well as the multitude of games we already own I have an ongoing list of 20 “Wants”. These include games we would like, games that aren’t available in the UK, games we’ve backed on Kickstarter and games scheduled to arrive sometime in 2021 or beyond. These games include three cycling-themed games – Pelotone from the Czech Republic, Dicycle Race from France and the Grand Tour expansion of Flamme Rouge. The first game we ever backed on Kickstarter, Funki Fruits, didn’t get the required backing but is set to return in 2021 as Grunling: Fantastic Fruits. We also backed two Button Shy 18-card wallet games Sprawlopolis, which comes with Agropolis. Other games that we’d love to find room for are the next two editions of Ticket to Ride (one a new 2-map set and the other an anniversary edition of the Europe expansion), New York Zoo, the beautiful Parks, Cat Lady and Santa Monica (both AEG). Santa Claus might also bring some new games!

I’ve also been involved in writing and editing questions for the latest editions of Taxi! Board game, which is produced by an Edinburgh company. It’s a traditional roll-move-answer questions kind of game but it’s a good one to get the family playing.

We also have our “shelf of shame”, featuring the games we’ve bought (or won) that still haven’t been played. These include Disney Villainous, Discovering Europe, Lost Ruins of Arnak and Escape The Room: The Cursed Dollhouse.

Here are my ten favourite games we’ve played this year, in no particular order:
1. Wingspan – loved the base game and the new expansions. Safe to say we’re addicted to it. It’s a “competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game” and it’s all about birds, eggs and food.
2. Ticket to Ride – very much the ‘comfort food’ of our shelves. Still enjoy a lot and each expansion adds something new. Great gateway game, especially if you like trains and travelling.
3. Flamme Rouge – I love cycling and this game right up my street. With a new Grand Tour expansion on the way next year. We recreated the whole of this year’s Tour de France and played a stage a day and almost sickened ourselves of it but I still love it.
4. Ohanami – one of our most recent acquisitions. Saw a Tom Vasel/Dice Tower review and fell in love with it. Easy to play, tricky to master card game and the kind of game you’ll want to play again and again.
5. Tiny Towns – you don’t have to be good at a game to love it and that’s the case with Tiny Towns. So frustrating at times but we love it. Use resources to put buildings on your 4×4 grid. Not as easy as it sounds.
6. Everdell – another recent purchase but one that was worth the wait. A game of “dynamic tableau building and worker placement”. The centrepiece of the game is a tree.
7. Concordia – excellent economic development game set in Roman times. Possibly the heaviest of our games but we do generally prefer light to medium weight games. Doesn’t get played often enough.
8. Mariposas – Elizabeth Hargraves third game after Wingspan and Tussie Mussie, is about the migratory travels of Monarch butterflies. Another beautiful looking game.
9. Mapominoes – “It’s like dominoes but with maps, as you build a map of Europe, by connecting countries that share a common border “, says the blurb. Fun for the whole family, even if you’re rubbish at geography.
10. Abandon All Artichokes/Port Royal – these two card games have been our go-to elevenses games while Kirsty works from home. We played Artichokes 100 times and then changed to Port Royal. Both games stand up to repeat playing. (Please note this list of my favourites of 2020 was written on 8 December. By 21 December it had been updated!)

If anyone is looking for any recommendations for games to buy for friends and family for Christmas, or maybe just for yourself, DM me and I’ll give you some recommendations.

We’ve talked of maybe hosting a regular games night in 2021 to introduce these games to other people. Obviously it’s all still up in the air while COVID lingers on but we’ll keep you posted.

Merry Christmas and Happy Gaming!

GAMES|My Top 10 of 2020

Having just watched the guys from The Dice Tower doing their Top 10 Games of the Year lists I thought I’d do mine. I’ve included games released this year and last year, mainly because some that came out in 2019 might not have been readily available in the UK until this year. I also chose one game which we only got this year even though it came out a while ago.

10 TUSSIE MUSSIE (2019) – A beautiful little 18-card game from Button Shy, designed by Elizabeth Hargrave. A fun little game themed around flowers that you can take with you on journeys or holiday as it comes in a small wallet.

9 TICKET TO RIDE: ITALY and JAPAN (2019) – One of my favourite two-sided Ticket to Ride boards, featuring Italy and Japan. The Japanese side introduces a cooperative element in the form of the Shinkansen train. The bigger your contribution to building the bullet train, the bigger your bonus. 2021 should see a new two-sided board plus an anniversary edition of Ticket to Ride: Europe.

8 TRUFFLE SHUFFLE (2020) – Card-drafting, set collection card game from AEG, themed around chocolates. Nice, fun game.

7 TINY TOWNS (2019) – Another AEG game. You construct buildings on a 4×4 board using one of five resources, although they might not always be the ones you wanted. Not as easy as it first appears. Also enjoyed AEG’s weekly play-throughs on Facebook, which should return in 2021. I might even win one of their competitions!

6 ABANDON ALL ARTICHOKES (2020) – Our most-played individual game of 2020. Easy-to-learn card game from Gamewright where you have to get rid of all the artichokes in your hand. Fun, fun, fun.

5 CALICO (2020) – A very thinky tile-laying game of quilts and cats. Easy to learn but difficult to master from Flatout Games. Based on how good this was we backed their next game Cascadia on Kickstarter, which is due in the summer of 2021.

4 CONCORDIA (2013) – A game we only got this year but it’s been around a while. So much so that there’s already been a large number of expansions. The trading-in-the-Mediterranean theme has been done to death in gaming but this was new to us and we all enjoy it. Some wouldn’t regard this as “heavy” but it’s the heaviest we have, maybe alongside Hamburgum. We don’t get it to the table often enough.

3 OHANAMI (2019) – A cute card game. So easy to learn and a lot of fun trying to master. Do you concentrate on each round of colours or hoard the pink cards for the end? A big favourite in our house.

2 MARIPOSAS (2020) – My second game from Elizabeth Hargrave in my Top 10 rundown. A beautiful game involving the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. Never known a game to encapsulate its own theme so well. An amazing amount of research must’ve gone into it. It’s also educational.

1 WINGSPAN (2019/2020) – It’s fair to say my love of this game borders on obsession. So much so that now that Kirsty is working from home we have “Wingspan Club” every lunchtime. We were late to buying the original game – mainly due to it being so popular it had to be reprinted several times – and after only 30 plays, the European expansion came out. After 40+ plays of that the Oceania expansion arrived and that’s hit the table 50 times already. In some parts of the world it’s only just come out. Like every Elizabeth Hargrave game, the theme is great and the box, rule book, components are lovely. There are plans for an expansion for each continent, including Antarctica, so there will be four more expansions.

What we’re looking forward to in 2021:

Cascadia* (Flatout),

Sprawopolis/Agricopolis* (Button Shy),

Flamme Rouge (Grand Tour expansion) (Lautapelit),

Creature Comforts* (Kids Table BG),

Pelotone (A&V Experience),

Ticket to Ride (new 2-map board and Europe anniversary editions) (Days of Wonder),

Wingspan (whatever the next expansion is) (Stonemaier),

Dicycle Race (Banana Smile)

Parks (Keymaster Games)

Grunling: Fantastic Fruits* (Wall Capital)

*Backed (or backing) on Kickstarter

From the boathouse across the fjord.

Looking back through my diary – yes, I still prefer an old fashioned paper-and-pen week-to-view one – and I realised that I had had only 1 day of paid work this year. This is something I need to remedy in 2021. I’ve done some bits and pieces of unpaid stuff (question-writing/editing for the Taxi board game) but that doesn’t put board games on the table. Er, I mean food. Yes, food. I’m not even sure what my skills are anymore. Confidence has been low as regards employment opportunities and my ability to get back into the rat race. I’m 53. I’m not sure what I can offer anymore. I should be winding down to retirement but instead I’m still looking for work. Maybe a driving job would suit me. Who knows?

I also need to read more – an annual resolution – and restart my blog for my random musings on life. I like the creativity of it. In March I had panned to return to community radio but lockdown struck the day before I was due to broadcast my first show. When things settled down a bit the aforementioned crisis of confidence took its toll and I gave up my allotted Thursday night slot. A weekly podcast could be a better idea but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. My morning/afternoon routine currently consists of walking, comping and learning Norwegian. I also do some stuff with my girls/women’s football Twitter page on Sundays.

My weight loss has been the one major personal success this year, going from 19st 7lbs to 17st 0lbs. It was tough but I made it. It’s amazing what a minor health scare can do for your motivation. I wasn’t in great shape either with various back, knee and ankle ailments. I should’ve been broken up for scrap. Sorry if I bored you all with my weight loss stories but I was proud of my achievements and it gave me a purpose, a project to focus on. I’d like to shift another half a stone and then just maintain it at that. The cheese mountain in the fridge might have something to say about that though.

One hope we have for next year is to visit Tromsø for the Arctic Race of Norway (cycling for those who don’t know) and so that Kirsty can fulfill a life’s ambition to visit the Arctic Circle. Unfortunately, due to a rip on one of the pages in my passport I have to get a new one – one of those horrible Brexit blue ones. That’s a January job. I had also hoped to be returning to the idyllic Bjørke for Indiefjord but the chances, like the location, seem remote.

I guess everything is up in the air for many people. I’m just going through my daily/weekly routine and trying to stay as positive as I can. I’ve had regular dips in mood this year. It’s to be expected. Even for someone who is happy with his own company 2020 has been tough. My daughter has coped amazingly well and considering the torrid time she’s had since July 2018 (illness and football injuries) her exam results were amazing. So proud of her.

I hope everyone has a Christmas to enjoy. Eat, drink, listen to the radio, shout at the telly, whatever makes you happy with the people who make you happy. I don’t want to suggest that 2021 can’t be any worse than 2020 because you just never know. Bull, well, it can’t, can it? CAN IT?