Day 225 – China and Smallworld

Tonight was good.

Ken has returned from China once more. He brought stories of all the places he’s seen. He brought feedback on his tour operator. He brought a terracotta warrior and horse.

Sadly/luckily not the full-size versions, but scale replicas for somewhere in the living room I think. One thing I didn’t know about them is that apparently the originals are all unique; although the bodies may be standard categories, each terracotta warrior has a unique face and hands modelled on real people when they were created.

I’m not sure whether that has something to do with artistic integrity, superstition or the whim of the emperor, but it’s kinda cool to think that the 8000+ statues all have unique features.

There was the obligatory slide show from Ken’s new camera, which sadly didn’t want to work over HDMI on the television. Too late we realised we could have attached it via USB considering every media device is also a computer today.

We had our usual mix of cheese, fruit and chocolate for appetizers.
Kiwi-berries are weird and delicious.

We decanted a bottle of overdue wine that proved very drinkable.

We ordered a multitude of pide delivered to the door.

And then we played Smallworld Underworld for 3. I think I may have mentioned this board game before; it has an interesting premise. Everyone tries to spread their races as far across the board as they can on their own turn… but the game board is purposely designed to be too small to fit everyone. As you conquer lands you start running low on troops and have to let your civilization fall into decline in favour of a fresh new race with more troops.

I came last despite a strong start. My troops were no match for Ken’s Adventurous Spiderines and his Flocking Flames (careful with that pronunciation there). The field wasn’t too wide, me losing at 93, Abbey in second on 95 and Ken on… I think 113 he said?

A very enjoyable evening.

And now I need some very enjoyable sleep to be fresh for a long day.

Day 36b – Sushi & 7 Wonders

I feel bad about the rushed post earlier, but between leaving work a little later than anticipated after getting stuck chatting to a co-worker, then going via Michel’s and only just making it in time for a coffee, and finally taking pictures of the moon for a place-holder, I was really in a screaming rush to get to Ken to celebrate Wednesday in the usual style.

The moon picture took a little more fiddling than I would have liked, because I actually edited two exposures together; one that showed the street scene well, and another that showed the detail on the face of the moon. I wanted to do a better job, but Paint.NET was just not doing the Photoshop trick quite as well as I had hoped.

Chopsticks
Chopsticks

It was again a small Wednesday; Sin, Cal and Jen have been piking on us for a while now. Just Abbey, Ken and myself. Normally we start Wednesday with cheese and drinks before we move on to dinner, but because dinner didn’t come to us tonight, we decided to start with dinner instead.

We had our brisk walk to the Sushi restaurant over discussions of impending holidays and unanticipated bunnies.

Menu with Sample Pictures
Menu with Sample Pictures

We had been to a different Sushi restaurant a few doors down some significant while back, but tonight was a new adventure. The menu was helpfully illustrated (see above), although that did make it harder to pick. There were too many delicious-looking choices available.

We decided to go with the share-for-the-table approach so that we could sample a broader choice of wares.

Edamame
Edamame

Salted peas are always a favourite. I think the ones we had in the other Sushi restaurant were actually a little better than these (in my opinion), but nonetheless… you can’t go too far wrong with these, unless you try to eat the peels as well as the contents.

Main Course
Main Course

Our main selection was a collection of Sushi and Sashimi… all good. That’s really all I can say about it. I’m not sure exactly what all the types of fish were, but they were all delicious and I’m sure that is the main point in this case.

I did suggest early on that we probably needed more. Abbey and Ken were sceptical on account of cheeses as-yet uneaten. In the end I convinced them that we needed at least one more dish, and the thin-sliced beef we got was very good as well.

I almost forgot to mention the sake. Ken reckons it’s not the best he ever had, but I don’t think I’ve had better myself. It was a bit hot though… I had to start pouring the flask wrapped in my napkin because it was burning my fingers. The first shot was really a little too hot, but the second shot was just right.

Cheese Platter
Cheese Platter

Normally I feel gorged by the time Wednesday is over… I always eat too much. Thanks to the warnings over dinner of impending cheese, I think I have avoided that trap this week.

The blue cheese we had was interestingly sharp and light… but it didn’t go at all with the fruit paste we had (apricot and pistachio). The brie was typically brie-ish?… briely?… The blueberries were a little tart but delicious. The strawberries were a little watery, but sweeter than I expected from the Coles special-of-the-day.

Kanonkop
Kanonkop

And then there was my victory wine from Peter… which was very delicious. We really need to make a point of sampling some more African wines. I’ll have to get some suggestions of labels to hunt down from Peter… *hint hint comment?*

The wine was quite potent though and I had just shared a large flask of Sake with Ken, so I really had to stop myself after a glass or two. Still had to drive home afterwards! The down-side of having Wednesday elsewhere.

And then… time for a game over tea…

First Wonder: Babylon
First Wonder: Babylon

7 Wonders is a pretty fast game for up to 7 players. Everyone gets a specific wonder at the start of the game with its own special abilities. Everyone gets a hand of 7 cards. Every turn you play a card from your hand and then pass the rest either left or right. A game takes about 30-45 minutes in my experience.

I started the first game with Babylon… the middle ability suggested I should try to collect scientific structures, and I really thought I was going well all the way through. Alas, KenAbbey pipped me at the post with his military victories.

Second Wonder: Olympia
Second Wonder: Olympia

The second game I started with Olympia. This time collecting civilian structures and military victories seemed the best approach. Alas, I should have pressed the military angle harder, because but for one loss to Ken in the second round I could have been the winner. Again Ken took the prize.

I really thought I had it in the bag when I gleefully deprived Ken of military options in the third round, and saw Abbey build a guild card that I was going to be able to copy for free and make more points on that she would.

I’m sure all that sounds like gibberish to anyone that doesn’t know the game, but let me assure you… it’s a lot of fun.

I don’t think 7 Wonders is on the list, but if you’re ever curious about less typical board games, I can really recommend the TableTop series on YouTube with Wil Wheaton as host. The premise of the show is that Wil invites friends over and shows you how these games play.

My personal recommendation for newcomers would be Ticket to Ride because it’s very easy to learn and the rounds play very quickly so you never sit around waiting for very long. (Unless you play with Ken, but that’s just how that goes)

Day 34 – Drinking and Betting…

I arrived to work to a slightly fuller desk than the one I left before the weekend. Obscuring the clear access to my keyboard; the bottle you can see in the header to this post. Peter had kindly left me my prize for the first 30 days of blogging as per the bet he made on my first 365 post.

This looks like a very nice bottle of red from South Africa where Peter lived for a while before living in the Netherlands for a while. He has many entertaining stories about his time in either of these places, and he really should start his own blog to retell them… although I won’t insist on a daily posting schedule ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Note with The Bottle (in Afrikaans)
The Note with The Bottle (in Afrikaans)

He also left me a note in South African with a challenge to try to decipher it. Luckily when sounding out the words in my mind it isn’t sufficiently different from Dutch to stump me… and where the words are completely foreign I could get by with an educated guess or two.

Hi Jerry,

Baie geluk aan die eerste maand van blog boodskappe. Dit is baie indrukwekkend, en ek hoop jy die skryf van die blog vir die volgende elf maande verdere geniet. Ek hes eers gedink wyn uit die “Leeuwen Estate” meer geskikt sal wees, dan het ek dedink ‘n Italiaanse wyn sou meer gepas wees, maar uiteindelik het ek besluit om Suid-Afrikaanse wyn te koop.

Nou, sal ek dit vir jou in Nederlands vertaal? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Geniet!

Peter congratulates me on my first month of blogging, and comments on how impressive keeping up the schedule has been and that he hopes I’ll keep it up for the next 11 months. He was originally going to get a “Leeuwen Estate” wine from Australia due to my last name. Then he considered an Italian wine based on some grief I gave him in an online presentation. But in the end he settled on a South African wine. And I’m glad he did, because I’m sure the wine will be a joy when I get to it next Wednesday, but the note has already been a treasure.

Now, as for the box it came in… I’m hanging on to that for another 28 days, because once I make it past another month I think his dedicated reading of my blog is worthy of a surprise in return.

Something a little different though…

…he’ll see ๐Ÿ˜‰