Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Christmas Board Games

This post should more accurately be labelled Christmas Board Games, Card Games and Other Activity. It is a widely known fact that more board games are played at this time of year than at any other time, The Harwood household is no exception. Here is a list of some of the games we have played over the 2013 Christmas/New Year break.

I'm starting with an old favourite - Scrabble. Holly had this game out well before the festive holidays and was playing it with Kate on the living room floor. It didn't take long before two teams were playing (rather than the two individuals) and between browsing TV we had some fun games.

Next up was Monopoly Deal a card game derivative of another classic Christmas game. This time it was Gary, Beckie and Flo playing. Monopoly Deal is a much faster paced game than the Monopoly board game and is much easier to set up and layout. Monopoly Deal was one of the Games that Gary brought with him.

Hollywood Dominoes is a fantastic family game, based on double-twelve dominoes with a couple of 'special rules' the full game takes twelve rounds and is ideally played with more than four players. The game was bought for Gary and Beckie two years ago but is a great festive attraction that takes over the dining table for well over an hour of play.

The 2013 New Purchase, bought for Gary as one of his main presents this year. Dominion is a card game that allows you to build hands during the first phase of play, then convert these hands into money in the second phase. We played a simplified version for the first game, but still enjoyed the varied rounds. I'm looking forward to another game later today.

The next two are not our games, but were brought down by our neighbours - The Kells. First we have Last Word, a card based game where you should be the last player speaking before the buzzer goes. We played it with a full table of seven and we all enjoyed the game.

Werewolf was a new game to me and Sue. It is a card based game where villagers try to kill the Werewolves before the Werewolves kill them. I liked the theatre that this roleplay game gave, but do feel that it needs more than the eight (seven players and a Games Master) that we had available to play well.

Scattergories was bought for us by my Mother last year and has become a family favourite. We all play and have some hilarious fun listening to the answers that Nanna Flo gives - at 89 years old she can still give us a run-for-our-money with some of the answers.

RapidDough has so far remained in its box, but I would expect it to make an appearance either today or tomorrow.


My main present to Holly (my Daughter) this Christmas was this Gin Tasting Kit that I had made for her. Holly had been looking to book a Gin Tasting weekend earlier in the year and I said that I would put one on for her this Christmas. Some years ago I worked for Hiram Walker Agencies/Allied Domecq and Beefeater Gin was one of the products that was sold by the group. During my time with the company I attended and ran many tasting events - Gin, Whisky, Port and Sherry to name but a few. I built the box from an old wine case and the interior from card. Each of the twelve plastic boxes holds a different Botanical (or Gin flavouring). They are Juniper Berries, dried Lemon and Orange peel, Liquorice Sticks, Almonds, Angelica, Orris, Cassia, Coriander, Cardamon, and Rose Petals. The twelfth holds some perfume sampling strips (picked up from Selfridges) which can be used to 'nose' the Gins.

The plan is to hold a Gin tasting evening later this week and use the individual sampling boxes to try and identify the main smells or aromas. For those that are interested all gins have a variety of different Botanicals (the main being Juniper) which give the Gin its individual flavour. Beefeater for example will have seven Botanicals, they are; Juniper, Seville Orange and Sicilian Lemon Peel, Liquorice Root, Almonds, Angelica and Orris. Hendricks would have a mix of the above with the addition of Rose Petals and Cucumber.

Prior to making up the box and re-reading my library of books on the subject, we had a Birthday party at Boleros Cocktail Bar in Worcester. When everyone else had ordered their cocktails I called the waitress over and gave her my order; a glass of Beefeater Gin, a separate glass filled with ice, a wedge of lemon and a bottle of Schweppes Tonic Water (NOT SLIMLINE).

I first nosed the Gin then sipped it before adding the ice and the lemon (which was squeezed into the glass rather than floated on top). I then added a third of the glass of Tonic Water (I do not like to 'drown' my Gin) before tasting the Gin and Tonic.

Later I called over the same waitress. This time a Glass of Bombay Sapphire, a separate glass with Ice, a wedge of LIME and another bottle of Tonic Water. I proceeded to 'nose and sip' the plain Gin before adding the Lime, Ice and Tonic Water. I think you can begin to imagine some of the comments from the other guests!

(Note; Bombay Sapphire is made in a different way to the Beefeater Gin - a method that gives a more subtle aroma and flavour).

Later still, a third order. This time Hendricks Gin (yes- you guessed it) in a separate glass with Ice, a slice of cucumber and a bottle of Tonic. By now other Birthday Guests were both wanting samples of my custom-built G&T's as well as ordering their own.

(Note; Hendricks is made in Scotland and is built from a blend of spirit from two different stills).

So where from here?

I called over the waitress and ordered a Fifty Pound Gin (this is a brand not the cost) and not knowing, ordered both a wedge of Lime and a wedge of Lemon, ice in a separate glass and a fresh bottle of Tonic. This time the G&T was (reticently) shares with all at the table.

Later when going out for a drink with some work colleagues, we agreed to meet up at the St Andrews Hotel in Droitwich. I arrived early and ordered a Gin and Tonic - What Gins were on offer?

The barman said Gordons (not one of my favourite), but in this case I agreed and he proceeded to pour ALL OF THE BOTTLE OF Tonic Water into a warm glass, drowning my Measly Measure of Weak Gordons! OK by now I'm not in a good mood. A mood made even worse when he informs me that there was no ice and the Lemon slices are still in the kitchen fridge!

Needless to say I didn't stay long and actually didn't finish the G&T, preferring to make my apologies and return home for a proper (Home-Made) Gin and Tonic!

To end, Happy New Year and (as is appropriate for this post) - Cheers.


If there are any readers who would like to know more - check out this YouTube link.

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