||[Wednesday 13th December 2017 at 11:00 pm]
For several years now I've tended to head to Brighton for my Christmas shopping - the Lanes and North Laines are full of so many quirky shops that are excellent for silly presents - and this year was no exception. For a change I drove down (to avoid having to rely on Southern Rail, or Southern Fail as they are known as these days), and it was actually a fairly straightforward drive. I even managed to park in Churchill Square with no problems.
I ended up meeting talismancer in town for lunch, followed by investigating various random shops in search of presents before he had to head off elsewhere. It's interesting to see all the changes in the shops - some old favourites are still there and have even expanded (Daydream Nation has moved from being well-hidden at the top of a clothing store to less well-hidden and taking over half the shop), some have evaporated (there used to be a good model shop near Churchill Square), and others are ticking over quite nicely (Dave's Comics and Dave's Books are exactly where they were in my university days). Anyway, I found a few presents for different people, and even one for myself - a small painting/print of West Pier caught my eye in a art shop that I've walked past several times, so I entered to discover a veritable Aladdin's Cave of random artwork. I swear extradimensional space is involved.
After shopping I trundled across to Sussex Uni for my traditional annual SWARM visit, where I hardly recognised anyone. It does look like less and less of the old SWARMites are turning up, though there's a few people I did remember from other visits and I ended up playing a couple of games (though not Magic, oddly enough). First up was Race for the Galaxy which I was managing a reasonable showing at until Kat stormed ahead to victory, followed by a new one for me: Machi Koro. This is an interesting construction game where actions can happen on anyone's turn - each player takes it in turn to be the active player and roll some dice, but depending on the resulting number and what other players have built it could be their opponents that benefit. Kat after a slow build once again stormed to victory (I'm beginning to spot a theme here...), but I'm happy as at least one long-shot strategy of mine paid off (a Tech Center with a ludicrous amount of tokens stashed on it, which I activated once and got nearly 30 coins out of).