Board games in the pub, and a dash of culture

Since the New Year we’ve been busy bees. Our search for a house stepped up a notch and we’re now faced with a big decision, not sure what to do, but I’m sure everything will turn out for the best. We’ve also been planning a mammoth backpacking trip to Japan - which takes up much more time than I imagined, I think I’ve read the entire Lonely Planet book now. On top of this I’ve changed jobs, leaving my UX team at TSL Education to start work at and Sam has been studying hard in Guildford.

We’ve only been able to see each other at the weekend, or an occasional midweek stopover. But that hasn’t stopped our theatre, cinema and gaming adventures!


This year felt like a double birthday. On Tuesday, the day before, Sam treated me to a homemade birthday meal and we watched The Social Network on my little laptop screen. Then, come the big day, a fried breakfast in Guildford, fresh croissants in the office, lunch at Asadal (a Korean restaurant), and an evening meal at Blenio’s in Brighton. Scrumptious scrumptious pear and gruyere salad. Somewhere in all that was a singing Cliff Richard card, almost certainly the highlight!

Come Thursday it was my last day at TSL, and with it came cake, presents and a pub send off! Friday was lost to a hangover, and all those good intentions for a day off between jobs fell into oblivion.

‘Good luck Paul’ leaving cake
‘Good luck Paul’ leaving cake

Out and about

Despite all this busy-ness, we’ve caught a couple of fantastic things at the cinema, and a not so great thing at the opera.

Using our under 30s discount tickets we snapped up some seats for Lucrezia Borgia, a mere £10 each. I guess you get what you pay for; the English opera lacked substance and was dull to say the least. Videos between scenes were weird and verged on being soft porn. Still a newbie to opera, I’d probably struggle with a good one, but the reviews in the paper confirmed my suspicions, it did in fact suck.

At the cinema I delighted in seeing “Bringing up Baby” at the BFI Southbank as part of their Howard Hawks season. Carey Grant in his oh-so perfect helpless hapless character.

Then at the Dukes we were devastated and terrified by the astounding Black Swan movie. Another Aronofsky masterpiece, we left the cinema dumbfounded, and it plagued our thoughts for days. Incredible!

The King’s Speech was very good, but Black Swan took film-making to a whole new level. I can only hope that the swan lake rendition trumps the stuttering royal at the Oscars, but with the scar of Bill Murray’s best actor snub for Lost in Translation, my hope lies thin.

We’d been hoping to see Keira Knightley in “Children’s Hour”, but evening and weekend tickets cost a small fortune. Aha! Such a trifle matter never thwarts Sam, and she took a troupe of trainee clinical biochemists to see a student-discounted Wednesday matinee. It was stellar, and my envy of them is only matched by my lethargy to book a single ticket for myself.

Board games in the pub

Anyone that knows us well will know of our unhealthy board game obsession. A blue wardrobe in the bedroom is filled with a treasure trove of games. From Carcasonne and its expansions to an original ‘30s monopoly, we’ve been slowly building our collection with each birthday and Christmas.

And now we’re no longer confined to our living room. Friends at TSL spawned a fantastic idea; let’s play games in the pub! So we’ve begun taking Settlers of Catan out with us, to London. With a pint of Landlord in hand, we build our settlements, fight over sheep and roll dice hoping to avoid a seven. There’s nothing quite like shouting across a pub, “have you got wood?”.

The Crown Tavern, near Farringdon station, is perfectly suited. The upstairs room dons large tables, is quieter, and even has an open fire. The food’s not bad either. So far we’ve only played Settlers, but I’m sure other games will feature.

A Thai feast

We’ve been meaning for Sam’s friends from Leicester to come down to Brighton for a while now, but the logistics never quite worked. At last we managed to get everyone together for a weekend of, dare I say, ‘authentic’, Thai cuisine.

Serving seven, we created our tastiest pork red curry, chicken green curry and pad thai yet. With ingredients sourced from the ever reliable Taj, our curries had perfect little egg plants and chillies. A spoonful of maple syrup in the green curry made all the difference, as did the freshly pruned basil we’re growing on the window sill (did I mention it’s been flowering? It must be happy). The chicken pad thai, throw in wok and sizzle (my speciality), was just right, though one batch lacked bean-sprouts, variety always helps.

For dessert Hannah brought us some perfectly crispy, perfectly gooey homemade meringues, with a delightful lemon curd to boot. Yummy!

Post whisky, coffee and wine, as scientists and musicians, conversations ranged from the obscure (benefits of different mass spectrometers, typography), to any randomly picked topic from the world of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Come morning and the good food didn’t stop; yummy pancakes, fresh bacon sandwiches and good coffee. Nom nom. Just the right thing for kicking us out onto a walking tour of Brighton, down to the beach with its pebbles, crashing waves and dead starfish, to the North Laine and its graffiti.