And the best game to take camping is...
Scenario: The blog editor and extended family are going camping.
Problem: We need sources of entertainment. The car is packed to the rafters with gear, with the 5 y.o. even expected to travel balancing a wind break on his head. The journey is the best part of six hours. The weather forecast is abysmal; as bad as it can possibly be. I am already suffering a sense of humour failure, and the car has yet to leave the driveway.
Let's start this off by saying that I am not a natural camper. I like my home comforts, I like my stuff around me, I like a nice bed, the TV and the Internet, a wide choice of drinks and foods, served on non-plastic crockery and including a range of condiments. I like order and tidiness, clean clothes every morning (well, most mornings), forty-minute long piping hot baths and the feel of carpet beneath my toes should I need to get up in the middle of the night for - umm, any reason. I am also not very good at sitting still for any length of time contemplating the beauty of nature, the shapes of clouds, the trill of birdsong etc. etc.
The rest of the family disagree, and call me a miserable old git. So I pack a game, just to show them that I can get into the spirit of things with the best of them.
The issue is this: what would be the best game to take camping? I have over-excited children and nephews so it needs to be robust. Our tent is historically a place of chaos - so small, fiddly bits are out. There is likely to be wind and rain - oh boy is there likely to be wind and rain! - so I'm unsure about the wisdom of taking anything featuring lightweight cards. And it needs to be something we can play in the dark, or at least by the light of our pitiful camping lanterns.
Solution: We find a tiny space in the boot for LOGO Grab.
A perceptive move on my part. Thing is, for all the stuff that we produce, LOGO Grab is just about the most portable and rugged of the adult/family game range. The dice are big and chunky and won't get lost easily; the cards are in the form of coasters: weighty and thick, just like the ones in your local pub. You can lob it in a rucksack with no worries; the flat surface of a picnic rug is all you need as a playing area.
Problem: The official LOGO Grab bag disappears!!!
Solution: We improvise, and requisition Auntie Penny's beanie hat, rummaging around in it for the dice as required.
It is an excellent substitute, until her head gets cold. The bag is later found in the dirty washing in the corner of the tent. See, I told you we had kids.
Problem: We wish to play well past the younger kids' bedtime, yet LOGO Grab is hardly a quiet game.
This one taxes us a little. It's not necessarily a shouty and screamy game, but it's simply impossible to conduct something which is based around the concept of 'the rapid lunge' without a fair bit of kerfuffle and a certain amount of laughing, groaning etc.
Solution: An extended day on the beach at Embleton: sandcastle-building, hole-digging, several rounds of beach cricket and a 'jumping off the sand dunes' competition.
The younger ones go straight to sleep; we let the nine year-old stay up to enjoy the game. (They're not my pink pyjamas in the main picture, you know.)
Result: I win!
Not the game - none of them - for it transpires that I am hopeless at LOGO Grab. Utterly so. Everybody chortles at my ineptitude and foolishness as they run rings around me whilst making cutting remarks about my legendary competitive streak. But I win the 'best dad' award for the evening, for coming up with the game. Small victories.
Epilogue: And you know what? The weather forecast was wrong; fabulously wrong. The sun came out; the real, hot sun that we sometimes hear about in the summer. I got into the camping thing by day two (which I always do). And Embleton, Bamburgh and that stretch of Northumbria is our New Favourite Place In The World, an endless stream of sandy beaches, dramatic castles and lovely, friendly people.
And we solved that one issue that has been vexing travellers for centuries: what is the best game to take camping?