Tag Archive: Patisserie Valerie


Picking up the January pace

Intended for publication on 12 January. 

Salut,

The gentle beginning to 2017 continues unabated, eleven days into this new calendar. Only one person has complained of being broke but that’s because they cannot leave the sales alone rather than having overspent at Xmas or anything like that. Some of us can do restraint, it seems.
It was a pretty busy weekend at Casa Beaufoy. Friday night though was “lie prostrate on the couch”, particularly after the spicy chilli I cooked for myself. The week had by no means been busy – though exercise has been upped now leg is feeling better – but I felt drained and needed an evening of nothing/very little. Saturday morning, I pottered around the flat, finished off the chilli for lunch and then went out for much of the day. First stop was the board game shop in Finchley. Bought myself an expansion pack to Resistance (Hostile Intent), picked up one for Joey for Coup Resistance and 100 card protectors which will fit Talisman cards and Eldritch Horror cards. But if I were to protect all those games’ cards, I suspect well over 1500 will be needed. I don’t want to price that up…

Unlike most trips to Finchley, there was no time for coffee and pastries, it was on to the huge Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road for stickers (the mundane sort for identification mark purposes) and birthday cards. If like me and Adrian Mole, you find stationery buying vaguely erotic, then stay away because the sale will tempt you will all sorts of items. Exercise books, jotters, diaries, pens, pencils, weird and wonderful items…all designed to test the maxim “a fool and his money are soon parted”. Why Paperchase hasn’t supplanted WH Smiths as a good supplier I just don’t know as their merchandise is far superior. Distribution networks, I suppose. Why mention the stickers? Board games. My plan in the next month whilst things are still relatively quiet, is to begin to amalgamate/merge board games and their expansion packs together, particularly given the small space in the flat. If you remove the cardboard inlays, the boxes are far bigger than are needed but will hold more items. The problem is separating out multiple expansion items (characters, cards of various types, tokens etc). So different coloured stickers are my way around this. I don’t think _much_ space will be saved but it really needs to happen.

Back to the story-telling: post Paperchase, Orc’s Nest in Covent garden and the other board game shop where I felt suckered into buying the Eldritch Horror Expansion, Under the Pyramids. I just wanted to check to see if the price of Labryinth (the War on Terror Game, not the Ravensburger maze game) was cheaper. Somewhat poorer, I threw caution to the wind and had a late afternoon tea at Patisserie Valerie, chiefly killing time before going to Mr Butterley’s drink in the Welly. Vile place. I lasted an hour before my general antipathy drove me out of Soho. Certainly will not be trying that again without some fortifying Valium or similar. Way, way too busy, loud, obnoxious and full of nasty people. And no, not the people I was with, the general Soho-going masses.

Sunday was the board games day at the pub and it was utterly, utterly rammed. Tube strike didn’t deter _that_ many people. I was the principle target in Ca$h & Gun$ but my demonic leer made people drop out a lot (I don’t like using my powers for evil). Avalon – evil won three back to back games (idiot good types). One of the “children” in attendance had a mini-meltdown which served to put me in a ratty mood. Real childish stuff over losing games – if you can’t hack losing, don’t play.

This week, thus far, is your standard January week. We’re all doing our best to get through it even though there’s not much to get excited about. Routine hasn’t varied though last night we played a game of Shadows Over Camelot and the armies of good once again let Camelot fall to the armies of Mordred by siege engine victory. Did well on Spaceteam – level 12! 

Back hurts today. Was walking out the front door when I felt the stabbing pain of a trapped muscle/nerve. No painkillers yet…

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As a self-professed civ-fanatic, I do like to listen to the soundtrack every now and again, chiefly from Civilization 2 as that’s the music that stuck in my head the most vividly but also the odd piece from Civ IV and Civ V. However, I’ve never actually downloaded and/or compiled a playlist so rely heavily on YouTube to listen. Well, I thought I’d listen to Elizabeth’s music (war and peace) and one of the videos is actually a montage of her and her animations.

Animations?

ANIMATIONS?

THERE ARE CIV V LEADER ANIMATIONS AND I HAD NO BLOODY IDEA?

Yeah, because my laptop isn’t a gaming laptop and therefore limited in its functionality, the default graphic options were to turn off the animations so all I would see when playing the game were a series of static images. I’ve been playing Civ V for about a year and I hadn’t actually stumbled across this option. So when I turned it off, I was happy to see leaders dancing across my screen – or at least Montezuma dances when his spies have been caught and executed.

Son of a karking murgalak.

What’s the best piece of Civ-related music? Jules Verne, of course. Should stop with the video gaming for a while; I was looking at the TVTropes page for Rise of Nations t’other day and suddenly had an itch to play…

I completed the latest Star Trek novel last night – Rise of the Federation which is set post Enterprise, post Romulan War. For any Trekkies out there, I’d advise a quick flick. It really does set the scene for what happens from the founding of the Federation to Kirk’s era including how and why the Federation is heavily influenced by Earth as opposed to Vulcan, Andor or Tellar. I like these sorts of bridging books a little more than continuing saga novels. Particularly when a little light bulb goes off inside your head. Alas I have no other new books to keep me amused so it’s back to the older ones.

So, it’s Friday at last, the weekend is here, work remains squarely within the confines of SW1 and we can all breathe a sigh of relief as June comes to an end and we see what July has in store. What does July have in store? Well, two Brussels trips, three birthdays, the beginning of my month off (?), possible trip to Nottingham, possible trip to Bristol, another Board Game afternoon, hosting of a dinner party and of course, Brave New World. With a little luck, the weather will remain on the pleasant side rather than descend into the usual despair of overcast days and rain as has been the case the past few years.

Right – it’s ice-cream time at Pat Vals. Nach später.

D&B – with ethanol

I wasn’t a participant of Yoshi’s Island in Tuesday’s quiz; I was the quiz master together with Alex again. I set twenty questions on music, general knowledge, riddles and a picture round on Elizabeth the First and the feed back received was overwhelmingly positive. Moral of this story? Remember the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. The Griffin has also introduced a new alcoholic Dandelion & Burdock drink from Hoopers (their Crabbies replacement). It’s lethal; you cannot taste the alcohol at all and then BAM – twatted.

I met up with German Chris for the first time since…August last year for a drink yesterday at the Elusive Camel in Victoria. That pub has changed a hell of a lot since I was last there. Thumbs up to the cleanliness of the place. Thumbs down to the general service and extortionate bar prices. I suggested we decamp across to the road to Pat Vals for coffee. I should plug his website but it’s about to move hosts so I’ll wait for the new address (assuming of course it’ll change).

As I’m between games, I thought I’d revisit Super Mario 3D on the 3DS as I haven’t yet finished the second run-through of the game with Luigi. I think there were a lot of stares whilst getting angry at the World 7 run-through as I think I lost 30 lives alone on 7-4 making exactly the same mistakes in exactly the same place. It’s like hypnosis – being programmed to fail in a specific spot. Like Robot Unicorn Attack and “that jump” on a particular map.

As I’m bound by draconian rules, it’d put my job at risk to publicly comment on the two-fold news yesterday that (a) we are not getting any sort of performance bonus this year despite doing a damn good job in the most difficult of circumstances and (b) pay progression in the civil service being “modernised”. But what I will say is that you get what you pay for in this life, a lesson that perhaps needs to be…reasserted. I know what private sector employees are thinking – about time. Or words to that effect. But the main attraction of the civil service was a lower salary in exchange for decent perks. Who wants to work for a poor salary with little/no perks above what you might find beyond the statutory minimum?

One other thing – the hashtag #firstworldproblems is getting really old/tedious. And to the person this particularly applies to: what goes around, comes around.

Licentiousness

As I write this blog, I’m fighting the fatigue from only three hours worth of sleep. It’s entirely my own fault as after the pub quiz, I chose to make my way along the river to a certain venue on Invicitus Plaza…

Mentioned earlier, Wednesday was the only day in this week’s calendar where something was actually scheduled – lunch with Brian and the Griffin Quiz. Although I suggested Le Pain Quotidien on Vauxhall Bridge Road, he couldn’t find the blimmin’ venue (not least as he didn’t actually walk past it) so we settled for Pat Val’s. Rather than succumb to Waffles or Sundaes, I thought I’d play it sensible with Eggs Florentine on Brioche – calories aside. Though it was very tempting. Have to say I was snarling all the way through dinner, not least as I’d been fed back some tidbits from a series of briefings on this brand new Civil Service deal-thingy. My last blog post comment was totally validated.

We sat outside the café eating lunch and gawping at the various passers-by. Some not bad, some very not bad and some who should be swathed in bolts of the opaquest cloth possible. But more talent and totty than tat. I like Pat Val’s, I really do but it was a struggle to actually choose something from the menu as it was all sammiches and carb-laden meals. Then again, I didn’t know what I really wanted which made the choosing more difficult. Food choices have become rather difficult lately for some strange inexplicable reason. I go to the cupboards or fridge/freezer at home and stare blankly into them not knowing what to have. I’ve been way more decisive in the past…getting old.

As for the Quiz – yesterday afternoon was one of those which dragged on forever and so I had to get out of the office before the last thread of my sanity snapped and fortunately Chris M who I’d drafted in as an eleventh hour replacement for the team was amenable to an early finish. The weather remained pleasant enough for our walk down to the pub and arrived in good time to feast on Crabbies and Kopparberg. Ceajay and David couldn’t make it owing to other commitments which meant Yoshi’s Island was myself, Chris, Alex, Joey and Alex’s friend Matt who it turns out was an ex-Thingboxer who I have the vaguest recollection of (why they say you aren’t allowed to end a sentence with a preposition I don’t know).

There were rounds on Lords & Ladies, General Knowledge, News & Current Events…something else (memory fail) and we were able to scoop up a bonus round prize of four teapots – I may post the picture of Alex later – and we won the main quiz – bottles of Asahi this time. We won big on the quiz machine afterwards though squandered it piecemeal and asked/pleaded for some new games – like the Crystal Maze.

Following the quiz, I made my way over to XXL as I was already out and not ready to call it quits for the evening. The place was fairly busy and I had the rotten luck to arrive three seconds after what looked to be a stag party/civil partnership party as several guys were in top hats and tails. They took an age just to get through the doors. Still, in I went and I had a handful of what appeared to be Bacon or BBQ flavoured nachos and three pints of Amstel. I couldn’t bring myself to order Magners as I find it repellent. Stayed until 2.30am when I finally left and began the long walk to find me a bus stop which is serviced by either the 25 or the N8 – succeeded at Holborn viaduct which was 10 mins away. Might have been closer but I was playing Dragon Quest IX whilst walking…

Have been feeling the effects of less sleep today. Sleepy in the early part of the afternoon and ravenous in the later part of the afternoon. And now that it’s early evening, I just want to go out to drink and shag. This is how addictions start. What am I talking about, I’m a junkie when it comes to video games and being right all the time.

Liberty Bells

My work calendar this week still remains devoid of activity for the first time since August last year when I was on leave for a month. It’s oddly exciting and yet frustrating. What this means in practice is that I’ll be shackled to my desk during a quiet period twiddling my thumbs a little. I could get on and do some Staff Network business but there’s very little that needs doing on that front, not least because things have kinda died off on that topic. The problem with near enough total equality…

After four years of sporadic attempts, I finally completed (successfully) a game of Civilization IV: Colonization as the Dutch. Granted it was on “Pioneer” level but from humble beginnings and all that. I have a strategy worked out which won’t always guarantee success but is a solid formula. Naturally, I find another game guide coming on to add to the multitude of others written (and never published/stuck up on the web). I defeated the Royal Expeditionary force with 35 soldiers, 12 dragoons, 6 cannon and 2 ships of the line vs 50 soldiers, 30 dragoons, 18 cannon and 15 Man O’War vessels. Once their back was broken after the second wave, their resistance crumbled and my veterans liquidated the opposition.

What I haven’t yet mentioned is that I began this game at 11pm on Saturday night and I finished the game at 5am…the war for independence itself lasting over an hour. I was inspired by a game I played earlier in the day as the French whereby I left it too late (and to be fair, couldn’t get a single Elder Statesman to come over from Europe) to declare independence despite making New France the most powerful state in the New World AND chasing the Spanish out. Until about 30 turns left in the game when it was just too late to ramp up Liberty Bell Production to get to a substantive level.

The end is also in sight for Picross – again. A handful of puzzles are left – perhaps four and that’s it, another DS game bites the dust. Alas I have my birthday gift and a couple of others now to work my way through before I’m caught up there. I also treated myself to two Wii games on Sunday – Pac Man Party and Trivial Pursuit: Bet You Know It, thinking ahead to multiplayer offerings/possibilities. As part of my “buy-back” plan, I returned another game to my collection, Rub Rabbits.

Yeah, had to get out the house on Sunday so went for a walk, shopped, ate cake in Pat Vals and returned home having spent about £50 keeping myself amused. It’s amazing how quickly the cash evaporates. Tried to shop around for bargains but the only yellow stickered items were 10% off, hardly the price collapse I was hoping for.

I think I’ve decided on a menu for Thursday – Pigs In A Blanket appetiser (for the carnivores), Red Lentil & Aubergine Moussaka for a main and White chocolate cheesecake for dessert. Not too calorie deficient. I need to pick a cocktail for arrival, preferably one with triple sec in it as I have a full bottle of that at home and could do with getting rid of it. Looking at a Cranberry Chiller, a Lynchberg Lemonade and a Scarlet Pimpernel.

Hmm, I think that’s about it for another day. As I’ve been up to very little, I have very little to report. Finished Vanguard Book 2 – on to Book 3…