Thirsty Meeples

Board Game Cafe Thirsty Meeples Oxford Oxfordshire Food Games Card Cake Cards Fun Learning Happiness Entry 9 Double Date

If there was ever a representation of my inner geek heaven I think Thirsty Meeples could be it. They’ve got wall to wall shelving stuffed with board and card games and, if that wasn’t enough, an extensive menu to sustain you throughout your quests. It’s definitely one of my “Happy Places”.

Thirsty Meeples is a recent discovery (and addiction) of mine but I learned of its existence entirely by accident! I was despairing aloud at the lack of board game choices in shops when a kind stranger overheard and told me all about this fantastic place in Oxford where you can hire a table and choose from thousands of games. I’ve been hooked ever since!

If you decide to visit you can book a table in advance (and you need to because it’s hugely popular) and grab some friends for hours of gaming fun. Recently I went there on a double date with my partner, my old school friend and her fiancée. We’d booked our table for 6 hours and we would have happily stayed longer!

We’ve got similar tastes in games and we ended up playing Whitechapel which is all about Jack the Ripper. One of you plays Jack and the rest are detectives working together to hunt him down and stop him from killing. It was pretty intense! I successfully survived as Jack but my hands were shaking with nerves all the way through. I’m very competitive.

If the trip to Oxford is a bit far or you don’t want the expense too often this activity could easily be reproduced at home. All you need are some good friends, board games and (vast quantities of) food. You will quickly realise that I think food is the most important part of any worthwhile venture! Sadly I was unable to snap many pictures of the awesome food we had because I was too busy scoffing! Next time, perhaps!

Are you a board game fan? Are there any games you would recommend for our next trip? Please let me know.

Board Game Cafe Thirsty Meeples Oxford Oxfordshire Food Games Card Cake Cards Fun Learning Happiness Entry 9 Double Date

Give An Adventure

Learning Happiness Give An Adventure Wistow Maze Maize Family Fun Day Out Surprise

Everyone knows the old saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Now, I’m a big fan of both but I certainly think that a great deal of personal happiness can be found in making someone else happy.

A week ago I saw an advert in a magazine for a fairly local activity and it struck me that my parents and boyfriend would probably enjoy it as much as I would. I asked them all to check their diaries and make sure they were free this weekend for a spot of adventuring and they each confirmed that they were. However, the precise nature of the adventure was kept a complete secret. I simply advised them to choose footwear suitable for walking and to prepare for all weather-eventualities; we live in England so it could easily have been a disaster.

I kept my secret all week and it was still a mystery to my three passengers when we began our journey. I elected to be designated driver, feeling it may be safest that way, and I had organised a bag of supplies for each person so that sustenance and aid were available during our travels. The contents included two lollipops, a breakfast bar, and a couple of tubes of bubbles (a cryptic note explained that they were for use as flares if anyone got lost).

It was very exciting to keep a secret but a little nerve-wracking too – what if people didn’t like the idea as much as I’d hoped? Fortunately, as we drew close and the destination was finally sign-posted, my passengers caught on and were delighted. I drove into the car park of Wistow Maze and we all piled out into the sunshine.

Learning Happiness Give An Adventure Wistow Maze Maize Family Fun Day Out Surprise
My commemorative postcard from the trip!

Wistow Maze is a maize field, cut through with around 3 miles of winding paths and dead ends. Every year is a different configuration but this year, in honour of Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, it’s been drawn as the BFG! The maps they give you at the beginning show the aerial view of the giant and Sophie but it’s impossible to identify the shape once you’re in there; it’s just sunflowers and corn as far as the eye can see.

We split into two teams to complete the challenge (they have themed questions on boards hidden throughout the maze) and separated at the first fork. Then it was a fun two hours of getting thoroughly lost. We bumped into each other a few times and tried to sneak a peek at one another’s answers but to no avail. All in all, the surprise was a success, the sunshine held out and my team completed the quiz fastest and we are therefore supreme winners!

Planning a special day out made me feel really satisfied and I know that my family and partner loved the surprise and the extra little treats I mixed into it. Afterwards, we wandered around the rural centre and then I took them on a trip to the cinema to see, you guessed it, The BFG!

If you want to add a little happiness to your weekend and know someone who deserves a treat, see if you can plan a surprise for them. It doesn’t have to be a grand adventure, it could be as simple as breakfast in bed or an unexpected gift. And if you can’t decide whether or not they do deserve a treat, take them to a maze – if they’re annoying you part way round, pinch their map and leg it!

I hope everyone has had a happy Saturday!

Lernen Glück | Learning Happiness Through Language

Learning German Language Happiness

Now that I have entered my twenties and have already spent a number of years masquerading as an adult, I often find myself reminiscing fondly about the things I did at school. I always enjoyed learning and was lucky to attend schools that encouraged and nurtured my creative skills. I spent every lunchtime with my friends in the art room, finishing one project or another, while a never-ending playlist of our teacher’s peculiar taste in music kept us inspired. Fully indulging myself in creative pursuits throughout my schooling has defined me as an adult and I wouldn’t be a writer or photographer without the opportunities I had. It therefore comes as something of a surprise to me that one of the subjects I miss the most is German.

Ah, German! I struggled with French (perhaps I lack the necessary romantic streak) but German always struck me as pure logic and reason. It was easier to get my head around the sentence structure and I didn’t have to roll the ‘r’ sound – an almost impossible feat! Perhaps a sensitive subject in the wake of the UK’s referendum results, German is the most widely spoken language in Europe and is hugely important in business and science globally. Some of the world’s greatest pieces of literature and music have come from Germany and most (if not all) of the philosophers and classical composers I can name off the top of my head are German.

However, I’m not here to list statistics about German culture – as we begin the lengthy divorce procedure from the European Union I don’t want to create division or resentment where there need be none – but my opinions about learning their language are applicable to any you could choose. In our country we are woefully inadequate as far as learning a second language is concerned. Many of us rely on the prevalence of English across the globe and often expect other countries to compensate for our lack of knowledge. I am only fluent in English but having a grasp of German and continuing to work on it has already proven useful; recently I was asked to help translate instructions for defrosting a German freezer!

Not only is it a more globally responsible thing to do, to learn to communicate in more than one language, it can also be fun. Gone are the days when copying verb endings out of textbooks is the strategy for learning! Personally, my favourite way to continue my learning as an adult is with Duolingo. I have looked at textbooks to go alongside the study but for pure fun, Duolingo wins every time! Available on the computer and with free apps for android and iPhone, there aren’t many people without access to this platform. I love that they turn learning into a game; it’s competitive rather than repetitive. The app focuses on your skills and weaknesses, customising lessons to prioritise the areas you struggle with, and it provides a visual representation of your progress so you can see how far you’ve come!

Learning German Language Happiness

Free advertising aside, I know that not everyone has the time or the desire to learn another language but there are plenty of benefits if you do decide to give it a go. For one thing, learning a foreign language is really good for your brain! It can actually increase your brain size and make it stronger and better able to maintain memories into old age. For me, learning a language is relaxing and fun. I don’t do it religiously, preferring to keep study for when I’m really in the mood in order to avoid becoming disenchanted, but I try to make the effort pretty regularly. If you enjoy learning or have rose-tinted memories of your language-learning school days, I would definitely recommend it as a way to improve your happiness. Mental exercises like these are great to keep your brain healthy and taking ten minutes out of your day to sit still and immerse yourself in the language intricacies of other cultures can’t be a bad thing!

On a more serious note, if you are disappointed about Brexit and the uncertainty it brings about our future within Europe, learning a European language will be one of the best ways to increase your chances of living and working within the EU. The future is uncertain but, no matter the outcome, learning a foreign language is certainly something to be positive about.