One of the great challenges of modern life is taking a well-earned break from our screens.

Whether it’s your laptop, the TV or that ever-present mobile, they’re always there – and that makes time with friends and family all the more precious when you all decide to 'put your phones away'!

Of course, there are plenty of choices when it comes to entertainment, but one activity that’s gained recent popularity is board gaming.

Cafés and shops have popped up in a couple towns, offering the perfect way to get together with your nearest-and-dearest for some friendly competition but it's still niche and something, thankfully we now have in Somerset, too.

Meg Shire and Ben West opened their game café, The Board House, in Crewkerne during 2022 and it has gone from strength to strength.

'We've always loved board games', said Meg.

'And card games. And party games. Anything that means you can sit around with a group of friends or family. It’s an ever-growing world, and a great way to socialise.'

Chard & Ilminster News: Board House in Crewkerne Photo The Board House Board House in Crewkerne Photo The Board House

It’s clear the pair of easy-going 20-somethings are passionate fans of the pastime: step foot into their corner café, and you’re greeted by shelves bursting with colourful, appealing designs, across hundreds of games of all sizes, themes and genres.

There’s everything from family titles like Dodo, Herd Mentality or the crazy-sounding Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, to more strategic ‘Euro’ fare, such as Ticket to Ride or the utterly gorgeous Wingspan.

Even classics like Cluedo and Monopoly – ever-divisive as it is – haven’t been overlooked.

'It’s all marvellously easy: book a table for a couple of hours, peruse the vast, 400-strong collection for an old favourite or new challenge, and you’re ready to play.' says Ben.

Chard & Ilminster News: Ben West and Meg Shire Photo The Board HouseBen West and Meg Shire Photo The Board House

And while it might seem a little daunting to the newcomer, there’s something for all ages and experiences, whether co-operative or competitive, casual or enthusiast.

Plus, help is always on hand. 'We’re here to teach you', Ben reassures us, adding: 'We’re both happy to recommend a suitable game, and help set you up. And if you discover something your friends would love, and would like your own copy, we’ll happily order it for you.'

For more dedicated players, regular event nights are something to look forward to.

Thanks to the Netflix series, Stranger Things, Dungeons & Dragons takes centre stage, with a fully-subscribed eight sessions per week.

These Social Sessions feature all kinds of games (booking is a must) while monthly quizzes let fans show off their knowledge of favourite TV and film, such as Harry Potter, Friends, and Star Wars. Whatever your tastes, you’re in good company.

Chard & Ilminster News: Tasty treats at the Board House in Crewkerne Photo The Board House Tasty treats at the Board House in Crewkerne Photo The Board House

Naturally, no game café is complete without tasty treats to accompany the table-top fun.

There are herbal teas and fresh barista coffee, juices and coolers as you’d expect, and the ice cream shakes are to die for, all luxurious flurries of cream and chocolate.

But try the S’mores Hot Chocolate for that perfect seasonal indulgence. You won’t regret it. Cocktails, craft beers and wine are also available, as the café opens till 10pm most nights, while local cakes and snacks top off the food menu.

If you only have a precious half hour or so, just popping in for a bite or to catch-up with friends is excuse enough in itself. The atmosphere is relaxed during the day, while night time brings a social buzz as the dice tumble.

Chard & Ilminster News: Board House in Crewkerne Photo The Board House Board House in Crewkerne Photo The Board House

It’s been a busy 18 months for The Board House, and plans to expand to the first floor, as well develop an in-house kitchen for hand-made pizzas, are exciting to hear.

It’s no great surprise, though, given the entrepreneurial pair won the Muddy Stilettos award for Best New Lifestyle Start-Up in 2023 across Somerset, Dorset and Bristol.

Now, whose go is it?!

This article was first published in Somerset Life magazine. To subscribe, visit