Sunday, 8 March 2015

#IWD2015

Sylvia Pankhurst
Strong women always inspire me, I read into them looking for where I identify, looking for where I ask questions about their choices and where I differ. I am inspired because we strive for a better place, and whilst we all go about it in different ways - their efforts cannot go unnoticed. For  I recognise those who have influenced my learning and my beliefs, those who have cut some of bullshit out of the world. 

I applaud my historical icons, whose philanthropy, socialist ideals and a common sense that people may well call "before their time" but I consider to be far closer to "bravery that was just in time" - reading about clever, informed women such as Sylvia Pankhurst who supported women's suffrage and fought hard to keep it linked to a political movement. Yet she recognised the horror of war in a way that many of her peers failed to, and worked hard provide relief - a "cost-price" restaurant for the hungry, setting up a factory for those women who had lost their jobs, fighting for the rights of soldiers' wives.

Philanthropist Octavia Hill found her own way to find better housing for the poorest citizens of London who were still being failed by a too-slowly improving system - she became a landlord, creating a housing scheme which focused on regular visits by volunteers who acted akin to social workers, whilst collecting rent; improved sanitary conditions; the creation of open space (she later became co-founder of the National Trust) - her ideas and inspiration to improve social conditions helped develop the management of local authority housing in the inter-war years, ironic considering her complete opposition to government and bureaucracy! 

Celebrities often have an enormous hold over the general public, and due to that I applaud the women in the public eye that challenge the stereotypes the media pushes on us, who respond to nonsense in an appropriately scathing fashion and time and time again highlight that being a woman is about being a human being - just like anybody else - rather that tits, a pretty dress and a polite smile. 

Interesting, thoughtful unapologetic women (and even that descriptor is horrible - what do they have to be apologetic for? Being clever, sassy, sexy, witty women with thoughts in their head and a mouth to define those words with? I still get excited when Victoria Coren is on my television screen, being human and cool and always, always well-considered in her utterances.) are some of the best people of the planet - just like interesting and thoughtful men are, the world sparkles when we are equal and your consideration of another is based on their words and actions, without regard to whether they've got a cock or not or whether society has pushed its sexist ideals and morals on you. 

I am so lucky to surround myself with amazing women, women I envy to be like - whether that is my mother-in-law just down the street who defeats every burden that comes at her, or the friends who will call out every episode of sexist cack because there is only one way to defeat sexism: look it in the face and call it out for the shitty thing it is. I am so lucky to be surrounded by amazing men, men who aren't blinkered by the traditions of patriarchy - my brother and his wife whose children have their mother's surname, by men who are rightly furious by the stories they hear and the everyday instances of derogatory media towards women. 

Applaud those who know not to accept the bullshit. Everyone considers feminism and how to be a feminist differently, but we stand united in declaring our utterly disdain for the bullshit that still permeates modern life.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Friendship

Like Gareth, I seem to start most of my blog posts with "Oh no, I've been neglecting you - but I've got lots of new stuff to say, so expect regular posts from now on!" He's a bit better at actually keeping that promise, though. So what's been going on? My health is being especially dick-ish again, so I've been down about that - stressing out about tests, worried about medicines, and generally being a right misery to be around.

I can't change that overnight; I feel so on edge that I keep grabbing at ferns and long dead roots to keep me from falling off. However, gloom is not my master. I was cooking dinner tonight and a thought kept spinning though my head, 'If S hadn't spent so much time telling us about potatoes, the best ones for each season and for different types of cooking, our meals would be far less tasty right now. Yet none of us were very appreciative at the time.' I wanted to tweet him, but every time I tried to condense the thought into 140 characters it looked even more ludicrous than it had when I started. And yet all I was trying to do was express how much I appreciated his friendship, his shared knowledge and care that he applies to all things.

Despite my tweeting failure, it reminded me how much I loved our friends - of R who I miss terribly because he's moved away and tends to keep himself to himself (a problem I know far too well), and was the other foodie nerd, always creating things that seemed so refined and ridiculous for breakfast but then lived on Pepsi the rest of the time. And L, who wouldn't know a frying pan if I hit her over the head with one, but is the best listener, ridiculously patient and has the most common sense of anybody I know.

Our little motley crew (and motley really is the best word to describe us: young and old(er), educated and less so, extroverts and introverts we're tacked together by the glue of geekiness and years of love and shared experiences.) grew with R2 - the quietest of us all and yet probably the most witty, with a dry intellectual humour that has us in fits. Cinema became something regularly discussed rather than just an indoor activity on a rainy Cardiff day.

And then there are those who can't be there all the time - those that have commitments or live away, but every time they come out for a drink, or to play a game or simply a chat, Gareth and I always drive home saying 'It's always so nice when R3, or B, or L2, or P, or R4 and J is out, I wish we could see them more often.' The conversation drifts depending on who is out - to the utterly geeky about minute details of things, to singing randomly and joyfully just because (a few too many gins have been had) or to discussing the best gossip in town with brightly-lit eyes.

And then there's C, the rare star I keep in touch with from the horrible pre-Wales years, who knows me better than any other silly bugger on this planet and will always - and forever, I hope - bring me back down to earth with a bump and then the next second send me floating away again on some ridiculous scheme.

Gloom has a way of being all-consuming, of gripping you tight in an uncomfortable cwtch that you can't shake off. Worse, you stop wanting to shake it off because those cold arms become normal, become what you're used to and you start worrying how the air will feel against your skin once you're released from that soulless cuddle. My friends shine so brightly, the gloom fades to the background. I love them more than my rubbish words could ever say, and hopefully they are well aware of that.

And thank you, Ga, for always holding my hand and kissing my worries away.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Wed-threads: Identity

This is perhaps the most confusing post I will write within the wed-threads series. Today I discuss something that has an effect that lasts far longer than droopy flowers or a rubbish DJ: my name. A choice I have to make that will last the rest of my life.

I think it would be fair to call me a feminist, I am deeply concerned about equality and always try to combat inequality as it occurs in my day-to-day life. (Having male dominated hobbies and careers, this is sadly quite regular!) So my typical response would be along the lines of "Well of course I'll be keeping my name! Gareth doesn't own me!" etc etc etc. This would concur with the fact I bloody adore my surname (something I don't mention publically on this blog for hopeful wishes of privacy) and Gareth's surname doesn't sit brilliantly with my forename (Aimee Bundy has quite a lot of rhyming 'ee' sounds.) (Just to note: I'm not being a privacy hypocrite, Gareth is less shy of the internet than me and even his twitter handle uses his surname - @gabundy)

My surname is special to me, it's already double-barrelled and both parts are tremendously important to me. I would hate to me without it, I'm worried I will feel cut loose from my identity by ripping it away from me. However - I'm not just losing my name, I'm adding to it as well. This is the important aspect: I am becoming "Mrs" Aimee...

This changes everything. No longer is it about clinging on to my own identity, it is about shaping my own identity and continuing to be my own person in a confusing fog of letters and history. Both my mother and my mother-in-law's forenames also begin with an A - they are Anabel and Ann respectively. Now I start to think of letters coming through my front door:

  • letters for Mrs A [My current surname] - they must be for my mother, not for me!
  • letters for Mrs A Bundy - they must be for my mother-in-law, she lives just down the road after all!


So who do I become? I no longer wish to simply keep my surname - I don't want to become my mother in that way, and I will always see Mrs [My current surname] as her. Equally, I would like my children to have the same name as me, and that isn't something I would ever consider even possibly taking away from Gareth. Equally, I don't want post to be addressed to two different people especially (Dear Mr Bundy and Mrs BlahBlahBlah) - I do want to 'become one' with my husband, however much that should disagree with my politics. I am still an old romantic, I guess.

So what can I do? I can't triple-barrel my name and ask Gareth to take it: it wouldn't fit on forms and would sound utterly ridiculous! I can't create a new double-barrel it as I would find taking Gareth's surname and half my surname to be very disrespectful to the side of the family whose name I chose to dump. Creating a surname is now becoming more popular, but that doesn't appeal in the slightest - it has no heritage behind it, no background.

So what will I do? I'm still not certain. I hoped writing this blog might soothe my identity crisis. If I had to make a decision today I would  become "Mrs Aimee Bundy" - starting afresh is perhaps easier than trying to wrangle the remains into something shiny and possible. Oddly, it feels easier to take my mother-in-law's name than my mother's. I'm not sure I like how easy it feels - how easy it is for patriarchal customs to inflict themselves on my innermost thoughts and feelings just because it's 'the way things are.' I hope I simply have had less years of hearing "Mrs Bundy" refer to somebody else and that is why I am edging that way. I'm not sure I believe that though.

This is a topic I may revisit as the months tick down (something they are doing at alarming speed!) - I hope I am closer to being settled on the subject by then.

Previously in Wed-threads:

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Wed-threads: Venue

I've never been a wedding dress person, as a little girl I never dreamt of how my perfect gown would look. (I wish I had, it might have made the hunt for a dress a little less traumatic.)

I've always been happy to look at different venues though. Before Gareth and I were even engaged, my mother and I would daydream about different places and secretly potter about the internet (no pressure on Ga!) trying to find somewhere perfect. To be honest, I didn't really need to look far: I've always loved historic venues, places where hundreds of brides' feet have walked the same path mine will. I love stone walls, I love big oppressive buildings that haunt your mind and soul.

I absolutely adore castles. I grew up near Arundel Castle, which is my dream fairytale castle. I can remember having a tiny book of British castles, and I always thought Arundel Castle was the most perfect, the most beautiful, the most outstanding castle in the book. One of my regular childhood haunts was Swanbourne Lake and we would always drive past the castle to get there - and if you climbed up the chalk hills you could get a beautiful glimpse of the castle.

I'm not getting married at Arundel Castle. This doesn't upset me - firstly it's impossible, Arundel Castle doesn't offer weddings, and secondly there was absolutely no way I was getting married in West Sussex. In three years I've absolutely fallen in love with Cardiff and could not imagine getting married anywhere else. South Wales is my home.

Wales is the best place ever to want to get married in a castle. You have so many options! Some of the ones that were briefly considered included Caerphilly Castle, Craig-y-Nos Castle (tempting - it has a Doctor Who connection as it was Torchwood House in Tooth and Claw, and they often have good weekday offers on Groupon) and Hensol Castle. I was also tempted by Pencoed House because it was beautiful, and had its own whisky bar (my favourite tipple)!

We had a few requirements though - I really wanted somewhere that was easy to travel to, a "dry" wedding didn't appeal to me, so somewhere where people would have to drive to, and then drive to a hotel at the end of the night wasn't preferable. Equally - forcing people to stay at a location (one of the issues with Craig-y-Nos) was really off putting. A weekend wedding was again something that I was pretty determined to get - I'm quite guest conscious and I was really concerned about sending an invite that ended up having "you will need to take a couple of precious days of holiday to come to the wedding, then pay a fortune to stay at the only hotel in the area (which naturally they will charge you a premium for), and obviously you'll have the costs of travel, and even a new outfit and presents if you chose!" written between the lines. Not something I was comfortable with.

There was one perfect place: Cardiff Castle. It would blow the budget but it was gorgeous, there would be amazing wedding photos, it was in a city that really meant something to me (chip butty on Caroline Street at 2am after the wedding, anyone?), there were hotels for every budget, and you can get there by walking (for the local friends), bus, train, coach or plane! (And car - though car parking is where Cardiff really does fail dramatically - car park tips will be included in the invites, though!)

With Cardiff Castle chosen there was only one room I was interested in - the one I had kept going back to when giggling with my mother, the one that when I looked at wedding venues I would always compared them to: The Undercroft. It was stunning, full of thick stone walls and a vaulted ceiling; it was truly old in a very young castle; it was completely separate so we would have our own private, intimate bash away from prying eyes; and as a bonus it was the cheapest room for the number of guests we were inviting! It is perfect and makes me feel like a fairytale princess - not something I'm used to!

Now with an expensive venue booked, it was time to cut back and try and pull the costs back into line.

Previously in Wed-threads:

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Wed-threads: Twitter and Doctor Who - The Love Story

This is the start of Wed-threads: little thoughts and posts as I prepare to marry @gabundy. It's a journey I hope to never forget, but knowing myself a little too well it's probably for the best that I'm going to have it written down. (Forgetful, me? Perhaps just a little.) I'll still continue to try and post #dwsr and #setlock posts - but these have been thin on the ground of late.

I owe #dwsr a lot. I wouldn't even be in this position without it. Years ago I used to silently frequent the popular Doctor Who internet forum Outpost Gallifrey (the predecessor of Gallifrey Base) - then I loved to read spoilers, and would obsessively refresh the set reports thread on my school lunch break. Tiny details would excite and amuse me! It took me ages to realise that #dwsr existed - but when I finally did learn about this awesome hashtag, I created a twitter account immediate! Twitter was quiet though, my feed was empty of humourous chatter, nonsensical statements and political aggressiveness. I needed to follow people!

So I followed the "regulars" - those who had their twitter handle named on their Outpost Gallifrey profile and posted about things I was interested in. Weirdly of those first ten or so people I followed, I'm marrying one and another is going to be his best man. It's strange how these things happen.

In the mean time I got older, I got iller, I became more introverted and depressed. There was a year where I only left the house to go to hospital appointments (I'm allergic to sunlight, when you don't know what medicines work for you it can get pretty awkward pretty quickly.) Twitter had become a lifeline - a window to look into happy lives, a place to chat without prejudice. I wasn't just talking about Doctor Who now - @tlchimera had become a fully formed personal account, full of Formula One, Strictly Come Dancing, tennis scores and feminist commentary. I was still sad and lonely, but I was distracted. Distracted by the people living in my phone.

One of the people in my phone tweeted a lot about how ill he felt. About black dogs visiting, about entire days being wasted away by illness. I felt akin to this anonymous person - he was going through the same horrible shit as me. I'd tweet him sometimes, "Hope your day improves xx", "Sending hugs", "Sorry you're still feeling so bad." He never replied. I didn't worry, I just irregularly continued to send messages. If he got some kind of comfort from them, then that was good enough for me. I was worried though - worried about somebody I'd never met. When you're in such a solitary scenario it's easy to form attachments, you have plenty of time to think and dream.

One day he replied. It was late (or perhaps early) - and we had a snippy but silly conversation about whether the other person should be in bed. Resting, getting better. It was the start of something amazing. We started to tweet each other more regularly. He revealed he had thought I was a "tender loving care bot" set to automatically send caring messages to those tweeting their woes. I guess it made sense - my handle starts with "tlc." I'm glad he realised I was real though!

From there we progressed from twitter to MSN (yes, we really were still in the dark ages!) and Skype. A few months later we met in Cardiff Bay, and by this point we were entranced by each other.

Three years on, with loads of Doctor Who set reporting adventures in between, he proposed just before the fiftieth anniversary episode of Doctor Who, on 23rd November 2013. He intended to put the ring in the plunger of a Dalek, but couldn't get batteries for our remote-controlled one! Doctor Who (and Twitter) pushed me towards the man I cannot wait to marry. I've been a very lucky girl.

This is the start of Wed-threads: a series of blog posts documenting our engagement and the arrangements and deliberations for our wedding.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Photomarathon 2014

I'm rarely somebody who looks far ahead into the future. Holidays are never planned, and parties are impromptu. However there was something (other than my wedding!) that I've been looking forward to for over a year: Photomarathon 2014. Having only found out about Photomarathon UK a few days before the 2013 event and tickets already being sold out, I was determined to go with my partner (who is really the photographer. I stand around and make opinionated statements..) this year! Tickets were swiftly purchased as soon as I saw a tweet that they were now available, and I've been kicking my heels waiting for May 31st to come along!

"Green" from our practice
photomarathon.
Being completely new to the Photomarathon experience we decided to have a practice run in Cardiff Bay a few months before, using a previous year's list of topics. This was disastrous. We soon edited the rules to mean we could take the photos in any order and even then I don't think any of us completed a set! This didn't really help our panicked expectations for a long, confusing day..


We arrived bright and early with a bag full of stuff we thought we'd need for the day: emergency Jaffa Cakes, pens and paper, a bag of meeples.. Oh yeah, meeples. If you haven't ventured into my blog before you'll be unaware of the fact Gareth and I are massive modern board game enthusiasts (and I even work for a board game shop!) - meeples are "mini people" often used instead of pawns in games. We chose to use a red one from the game Tournay as the star of our photos and to provide a bit of a through-line. It was pretty much our undoing...

Partaking in coffee and a cake in the Millennium Centre, we waited for the clock to tick down. What were going to be the topics? Will we be able to incorporate Fred the Meeple into each shot? Would another slice of cake hurt? Finally everyone gathered and there was a rousing, celebratory speech to commemorate ten years of Photomarathon. Then we were off, we bustled out of the door and were handed our fate for the next four hours. They were: 1. Me, Myself and I (plus entry number) 2. Street Level 3. Camouflage and 4. Ten. It was time for an excited wander around the bay, throwing ideas back and forth.

1. Me, Myself and I

Like everybody else we immediately were drawn to the idea of three images of a person (meeple) for Me, Myself and I. As we wandered we saw more and more people taking those shots though and struggled to come up with something more original. Failing to find inspiration, we thought about ideas for the other categories. We spotted red chairs in the Millennium Centre shop and darted over there to ask permission to photograph Fred against them. This granted, we did a test shot (yes, well before the first two images were even chosen - we were back in our dangerous practice-run territory.) We loved the bright red background against Fred, it was perfect for camouflage. Gareth already had a strong idea of what he wanted to do for Street Level so Me, Myself and I was really holding us up.

2. Street Level

In the end we went back to our original idea, even though we wished we could come up with something more unusual we were hitting a blank. A trip to the car for a hand mirror and that was sorted. Now we could move on! We headed back towards the Bay through the Red Dragon Centre. I kept walking but Gareth had stopped. "What? We need to get a move on - we've wasted an hour doing nothing!" I complained. He pointed out the amazing expanse of bright red wall to our left. Our camouflage shot had just been improved. We quickly headed into the Bay to find somewhere to photograph somebody with over-long jeans (Some five-foot short-arse with a board game addiction.. not a clue who.) with Fred directly in the foreground. We headed back to the Red Dragon Centre and the first three shots were quickly in the bag after an hour of deliberation!

3. Camouflage

Ten. Ten was a struggle. There were a lot of literal things we could have gone for - ten meeples being the most obvious, but Ga really wanted something a bit different. As usual I stuck to stating the obvious "We should have realised "ten" would be a category - it's the tenth anniversary!" I don't think Gareth found it very helpful. Back in the Red Dragon Centre we headed into the Bowling Arcade, desperate for inspiration. The penny-pushers were where we hit gold - not only for 1p or 2p, there were machines full of 10ps! We tried out different ideas, having Fred and loads of 10ps in the coin tray to make it look like he was a prize, but it just wasn't a very nice shot. Gareth went over to ask the man whether we could put Fred inside the machine for a moment, explaining about the photomarathon. He was incredibly helpful and opened up the machine for us - despite it being a really busy day! We only had a few moments to take the shot so it may not be the best angle or focus - but it certainly involved the most gumption!

4. Ten

It was time for the pub and some Pepsi. Looking through our photos we were reasonably happy at this stage - it was going okay, maybe some weren't perfect but they weren't awful either! Avoiding awful was pretty much where our hopes lay for the day. Then it was back to the Millennium Centre to pick up the second set of topics. 5. We're All In This Together 6. Attention to Detail 7. Control 8. Crossed Wires. A pattern seemed to develop at this stage - Gareth would immediately have plans for the second shot, the third shot we had loads of thoughts for but the first would cause a disagreement and the last we would be utterly stuck for ideas for.

We also started to really regret using the meeple. He was a pain when we were idea-less, often tethering us to very literal interpretations of ideas and sometimes felt very "tacked on" to the shots (if he feels like that now, wait until you see the worn-out Aimee and Gareth's idea for topic twelve!) For, "We're All In This Together," Gareth wanted to do a photograph somewhere that showed the divide between rich and poor. This slowly became more and more impossible to capture - even with a bus journey to central Cardiff. Tips for future board-game-playing photomarathoners (surely, there are others out there!) - meeples look utterly rubbish lining up to get into job centres. Even when you try multiple job centres..

We had to go for a more literal understanding of the topic in the end. So after the job centre crawl, we went around searching for a bottle of "This Water" to put the meeples in. After visiting multiple Tescos, Sainsburys, Boots, Poundlands, coffee shops, Waitrose and not finding it anywhere, I googled it to discover Gareth and I are way behind the times: its name was changed back to "Juicy Water" in 2013. Bum. We'd lost two hours to hopeless shots and fruitless quests. We were a little stressed and grumpy at this stage(!) We returned to the Bay - our success had been far better over there! We decided to put the meeples into a perilous situation, first soaking them (meeples float so they didn't look like they were drowning, sadly..) and eventually burying them up to their heads. Topic five broke our spirit, a little, but it was finally finished:

5. We're All In This Together
The only trouble we had with number six (Attention to Detail) was Gareth's rapidly dying phone battery. He wanted to include Fred in a different way and succeeded with this typo-laden photograph:

6. Attention to Detail
We needed a quick-y at this stage, we were getting tired and needed food and the next set of topics was going to turn up soon. Plus we still had no idea what we were going to do for number eight (crossed wires.) Control took us to sitting on a bench while I controlled a meeple. I was tempted to do this actually on a game board, but that would have meant popping to my work in town to borrow something as we didn't have anything suitable with us, and that would have added a lot of wasted time to our day.

7. Control
It was time for the next topics so we headed to the Millennium Centre, still musing about what to do for Crossed Wires. We met a lovely employee who was sorting things out in the fuse cupboard behind the stage, and a quick snap of Fred meant we had finished the four topics before the next four were released! This delighted us as it was something we hadn't been expecting after our long search for number five.

8. Crossed Wires

The next four topics were: Dying of the Light, Stacked Up, Join the Dots and That's A Wrap! Our pattern of the first one being tricky to agree on, the second two going well and the last one being somewhat hopeless kicked in again. We went for food - maybe our brains would work better with a pint and a burger inside them! The Dying of the Light ideas were split between a Dylan Thomas book we picked up (meeples are hopeless at reading though..) or a moodily lit shot. We asked if we could use the cupboard in the pub, but were sadly told it would have to go through their PR department! Fair enough, we finished our meals and headed back into the Bay and found a nice shadowed area:

9. Dying of the Light

Stacked Up was a simple one - we had brought plenty of meeples with us and they joined Fred to build a pyramid. Sadly not a very high one as I had very clumsy fingers:

10. Stacked Up
We were down to the last two - and were still milling around in the Millennium Centre. We had considered finding somewhere the had loads of decorative dots and using string or chalk to shape a meeple through them, or alternatively just draw one on some paper. Luckily, however, there was an amazing blackboard in the Millennium Centre and our join the dots was born:

11. Join The Dots

That's A Wrap, That's A Wrap.. I'll admit we were idea-less at this stage, the marathon had broken us and I was worrying about having enough sleep for work the next day. We piled up our bags, camera cases and meeples and went to take a photo. We just couldn't get a nice shot of it though, it looked like what it was: a pile of stuff taken by a tired photographer. We were very jealous of the clapperboards we saw others had found! In the end, Gareth ran away to Sainsbury's, telling me he'd had an idea and would be back shortly - he arrived back with the final wrap in the shop! And here was our somewhat sloppy finish:

12. That's A Wrap
We absolutely loved our first photomarathon. It was a long day and we learnt a lot of lessons that we can't wait to bring to next year's event. Next year we'll aim to do an unthemed set, which will hopefully allow us to get a bit more creative with our ideas! And maybe we'll improve our stamina a little as well.. It was great day, and we loved milling around Cardiff with hundreds of other photographers. It's been very exciting to see there photos cropping up on flickr. We're looking forward to seeing even more at the exhibition at Cardiff Story in The Hayes, which will be open from 21st June to 5th July, 10am - 4pm. See you there!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Two Gamers Seek Three-Player Board Games

Should we just stick to two
player games? Pictured: Confusion
As most people know from talking to me, my gaming life is chiefly two-player and this is what drives our game purchases. Catan has no purpose in our lives, I desperately tried to explain to my fiancé: we cannot play it regularly. He disagreed and it's sat on the shelf ever since.

I'm so glad he disagreed. It's amazing to have the perfect game around when opportunity strikes. I'm typing this after five days of gaming with various friends - all having completely different interests and complexity thresholds. It was amazing.

We played four games of note and only one is specifically playable for two players:

The Resistance: there is little more exciting for me when somebody comes into work (Rules of Play, an independent board game shop) and tells me they have only played Monopoly. The thrill of being able to show them a sparkly, plastic-wrapped universe for the first time is very special. When friends tell me the same thing, on a day when I have bagfuls of games - well there's little hope for them to leave without murmuring to each other about the next time they can play *that* game. In this case it was The Resistance - an evening of it being requested over and over again, "I'm not a spy!" being protested loudly and regularly. Playing multiple games strengthened the laughter and doublethink - 'Well last game you said exactly that, and we all know you were a spy then!'

Survive: Escape from Atlantis

Survive: after playing the Resistance high-interaction was a must and there is little more entertaining than depositing your opponent in the sea only for them to be devoured by a shark. I sat out at this point and helped clarify rules and strategy points as they arose. Watching a group desperately swimming for safety with the banter and jollity carried over from the Resistance was amazing. It also allowed the new gamers to both play a board game (as opposed to card-based, party game The Resistance) and be introduced to the meeple. I strongly believe meeples are a board-gaming essential!

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan: the next day was a pub-day. We usually bring something along (Resistance is a staple as is DixitLove Letter and Cheaty Mages are also very welcome) but felt as a few had enjoyed Survive so much the day before that we'd introduce them to the modern classic that is Settlers of Catan. Having sold over 18 million copies since 1995, in over 30 languages, it is the most well-known modern board game, and is sold alongside Monopoly, Cluedo and Risk in most retailers. The simple ruleset (and the "wood" puns!) charmed the players and as time had ticked on, we brought it the next day as well - and this time, having practiced the game the day before, strategies began to roll out and a new victor was crowned.

Twilight Imperium (Third Edition)

Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Yesterday was the other side of gaming, we'd been invited along to play something different, never before played by us (it's three players and up and blossoms with a high player count), something that when people come into Rules of Play and talk to me about it I hang on their every word because it has always looked so incredibly exciting: Twilight Imperium. Despite having only the smallest of understandings of the actual rule-set pre-game, we managed to get into the game quickly (I built the strongest ships, War-Suns, on turn 1! It was so daftly unexpected and brilliant from my perspective) and delighted in weighty political discussions, intrigue, back-stabbing, quickly made reparations for fear of worse to come, distrust and uneasy alliances, trading and threatening our way out of situations. It was an interactive game at its finest, and my only regret is that I couldn't have played it again immediately (it was 9pm by that point - this game is long even if it doesn't feel like it!)

Opportunity struck and I've had several amazing experiences in quick succession because of it. I no longer regret having games on our shelf that will only come out every couple of months (and perhaps even less often!) because the joy a game can bring cannot be expressed in mere words: it's an intensity of feeling that I will do my best to continue grabbing whenever the moment offers itself. Next time I'm going to prepare better: the expansions for adding extra players for Settlers of Catan, Survive and Carcassonne are next on my to-buy list, and I never thought I would be saying that!