“New life, new things, Jac,” he announced breezily. “And that means no sitting around waiting for the children to call. We’re doing something completely different!”

“But I have to go to church…”

After church,” he said. He rifled through my wardrobe and pulled a few things out: old jeans, pullover, bomber jacket. “Uhm, look casual, ok?”

“Where are we going?”

“You’ll see.”

And he confidently lead me through a part of town I am unfamiliar with – around Waterloo Station. I know it is hip and trendy, but he led me through a sinister-looking subway tunnel that parents warn children to stay away from.


Within 10 feet into the heavily graffiti-ed tunnel, I could smell aerosol. Yes, that’s the stuff people get high on illegally. He strode through the dark tunnel confidently.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Arch number 16,” he answered.

My eyes took in the “artwork” covering every square inch of the tunnel.  It’s beautiful, in an eye-catching sort of way.

Arch Number 16 is a cafe under the arches called Draughts Waterloo. It’s a board game cafe, where people come in and play board games.


“We’re in the games design workshop,” he announced.

“But but but….” Surely this is not for 50-year-old mother of five like me? I looked around me….yes, I kind of don’t fit in (I didn’t know a single game they were talking about) but everyone was very friendly. There were around 30 of us, split into groups of 4.

The person running the workshop is James Wallis from the games consultancy company called Spaaace (“with three a’s”). He gave us the background and the psychology, and then we had to design our own game and test it, based on the criteria he gave us: the game had to be about London, for 4 players and takes 15 minutes to play.

My group designed a game called “Commuter Chaos!” about commuters trying to get into Waterloo Station but are hampered by a series of obstacles such as engineering roadworks, overcrowding and strikes. There’s a deck of cards to overcome the obstacles, such as bus replacement service, engineers drafted in, etc.


Other groups’ games that we played is the fun Repair Big Ben and London’s Burning.


At the end of the 3.5hour session, I was having such a good time that I didn’t want to leave. Draughts also serves good food, including soft shell burgers, mac cheese, avocado salad. When we left, it was dark, and the tunnel was almost magical (though I will never tell my mother that I walked through a tunnel in Waterloo after dark).


We saw this, and he said, “AHA! Guess what we are doing next weekend!”


Here’s his November list to kick me into my new life:

  1. Singing at Royal Opera House. Apparently, for just £10, you can sing at this historic opera house during your office lunch hour!!! Click here for information.
  2. Pottery classes in Shad Thames (sexy!).
  3. Windsurfing course at Docklands Sailing Centre.

And weekend in Winchester.

“You fool, how many times have we been to Winchester!” I smack him.

“Ah, but we’ve never had a dirty weekend in Winchester.”