The Sherlock Holmes Museum

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There’s nothing quite like an attraction with a long winding queue to dampen ones adventurous spirits and make one mildly cranky. The only thing worse in fact is to stand in said queue for twenty minutes and then have a member of staff approach to inform you that you need to leave the queue in order to buy a ticket in the shop. This is precisely what happened to me when I went to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street. I can tell you that when I finally re-joined the queue from the very start, I was somewhat aggrieved, things went from bad to terrible when I suddenly realized I needed the toilet. I was now well past mildly cranky and into the nightmare realm of Grump Hog Day! So if you go, remember before you join the ginormous queue, go to the gift shop next to the entrance as that’s where you buy your ticket. Having groaned on a fair bit and hopefully elicited some small sympathy; allow me to get on with my review which is only slightly tinged by this considerable trauma.

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The Sherlock Holmes museum is a delight. I’m a huge fan of Holmes and have very fond memories of reading the books at school during my formative years.  Like my trip to the Harry Potter studios, I found myself experiencing childlike wonder on entering a place so familiar to my imagination. Each room in this museum is beautifully put together with lots of small references to the books. One cannot help but think that Holmes and Watson did once reside here solving baffling mysteries in Victorian London. My favourite part of the museum is an inconspicuous book on the top floor. It contains letters to Holmes from all around the world that have been sent to 221B Baker Street. One or two were artistic, some had fictional mysteries, and my favourite from Gao Kun in China implored Holmes to give up his cocaine habit for the sake of his health. I have no doubt that a fair few of these letters are the result of teachers and there confounded homework assignments. Nevertheless it is absolutely astounding to see first-hand the joy a fictional creation can exert in the world.

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The Sherlock Holmes Museum, is tiny, a little overpriced at £15 a ticket, and comes complete with a deadly queue. However despite all these detractions, as a huge fan I think the decision of whether to go or not is elementary my dear reader.

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Glenmorangie Bacalta

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We’ve had some absolutely resplendent and sweltering weather here in the UK of late. Outside is a stunning day that promises to be a cracker, it’s a pity then that I should be so ill-suited to hot weather. Incidentally I’m equally ill-suited to cold weather, alas many people mistake this condition of double ill-suitedness for a personal disposition to moan. Getting back to the matter in hand, it is hot today in London! This problem is compounded by the fact that where I live, is fitted with some serious insulation that has turned my room into a tinderbox that is slowly baking me alive. I don’t want to crack my head open to find out but I believe that with this incredible heat my brain has turned to maple syrup. It is most amusing then, that today of all day’s I should be reviewing a whisky called Bacalta which is Gaelic for baked. It’s always a bad idea to drink whisky on days like this, but in the interests of my readership I shall persevere, quit my jibber jabber, and get on with the review.

Bacalta is the latest offering from Glenmorangie’s limited edition range. Aged in Madeira and Bourbon casks this is a wonderfully sweet and occasionally lively drink of considerable quality. Unfortunately it’s a tad pricey for a non-age statement whisky (£80), despite this I do think it is well worth seeking out for a tipple. On to the tasting notes! The nose is powerful but not forceful, opting to arrive in a gentle fashion. I get vanilla, honey, plum wine, and a delicious hint of mango. To be honest it’s quite intoxicating all by itself. On hitting the taste buds one suddenly gets all the fruits, there are simply so many different fruit notes here!!!  If I were to list them all you’d think me quite mad for believing so much could dwell within one glass. Predominantly I get peeled orange, dried apricots and a little plum. There’s also a delightful crisp menthol mint that lingers through it all. The finish makes for a most excellent juxtaposition from all these sweet flavours. Out of nowhere dazzling pepper emerges, a dash of cinnamon, some clove, and a moreish tang of bitter oak. A sweet invigorating and varied dram, this is something rather spectacular.

Verdict: I think I’ll have another

Score: 88

Versatile Blogger Award

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It has been my good fortune to have been nominated for the versatile blogger award, by the wonderful Shruti, who writes a truly most excellent blog about life in Germany. Thank you so much!!! Please be sure to check out her blog here. I cannot recommend it enough. As for the rules of this award, I’m to share seven little facts about myself and nominate five fellow bloggers to do the same (should they feel inclined). So without further ado…

Little Facts

I enjoy really long walks in the countryside.

I have a crazy laugh and some rather silly sensibilities.

I’m a massive fan of cheesy films and the Prince Charles Cinema may well be my favourite place in London.

I love the discworld books and have read all forty one of them.

I like to embrace the random side of life. I often take tube journeys deciding which stop to get off at by rolling a twenty sided dice. I’ve found all sorts of interesting places this way.

I’ve never had a favourite whisky maker, so many are absolutely brilliant and in very distinct ways. However to those who insist I must choose, I always say Highland Park.

I love a hair brain scheme, just coming up with a plan on the spur of the moment and following through with it is ace. I’ve been like this since I was teenager, sometimes with disastrous consequences. For instance, I once locked my entire school in the assembly room and used the speaker system to serenade them with chicken noises. I haven’t a clue what made me think of doing this.

Nominees

https://bitchwithwifi.wordpress.com/

https://thehumblefabulist.com/

https://dancingtothewords.com/

https://crawcraftsbeasties.com/beastieblog/

https://rediskot.com/blog/

Be sure to check these out!

(As always there’s no pressure to participate)

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this odd little post. I should have another article ready by Monday, with what I think is my favourite whisky photo of the year (so far)!!!

The Importance of Talking Bollocks

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Is red really a colour or just a dark shade of pink? What alcoholic beverage best represents your personality? An evil wizard has decided to turn the love of your life into a half fish half human monstrosity, not being all bad, he’s left the ordering up to you. So how do you want them? A careering rollercoaster ride for the imagination, in which wild ideas and preposterous propositions abound at a Mad Hatter’s tea party of pure nonsense, what’s not to love about talking bollocks? Well maybe on occasions it’s a tad pretentious, “The unrealistic special effects of the monster in John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ makes it all the more real given that on a very basic level it’s meant to embody the other”!!! As the election draws close here in the UK, I wanted to discuss the merits of talking bollocks. Fear not, I’m not about to go off on one about bullshit spouting politicians who are slowly eroding the fabric of our society. For you see dear reader bollocks and bullshit are entirely separate matters, even if they are perilously close to each other. The former is jovial and irreverent, the latter is just a ridiculous lie told with far too much confidence for my liking. What I want to argue here is that talking bollocks is not just a fun past time but a playful activity with some merit in developing our ability to entertain others ideas and better temper our emotions when our own ideas are shown up.

For evidence of this, I take you back to Christmas and the realm of the geeky. A single line spoilt the Doctor Who special for me last year. ‘Those windows like everything in this building are built to stand a blast equivalent to four nuclear explosions’. Now this had me fuming, as surely a paper thin see through material couldn’t have this property. It threw me out of the fantasy; the writer wanted me to believe that some flimsy paper thin glass was super-duper nuclear proof, just because. So when I saw a friend for a pint the next day I brought it up thinking it would provide a great topic to have a comical moan about. Instead his response was, “that was fine”, to which I replied ‘it was wholly unbelievable and completely inconsistent with our expectations about how the world works’. He retorted with a smile “name a fantastical show that isn’t like that”, sticking to my guns ‘yeh, but it didn’t even have an internally consistent explanation’.  Then came his ace in the hole, ‘what about Ant Man?’ Now he was just playing games with me, he soon explained…  In Ant Man, when the character shrinks he becomes super dense and that means despite his size he can knock people out. Yet with no explanation when he becomes super big he somehow gets super strong when he really should be a flimsy balloon. My friend knew I absolutely loved the scene in Civil War when Ant Man went supersize and smashed the place up and that I hadn’t complained about inconsistencies then. My response was comically complicated; evolution had predisposed me to expect big things to do damage and so the inconsistency was easy to overlook as it chimed with my expectations. I smiled; I was on thin ice and knew it. My friend smiled for the same reason, ‘so when you go into a police box what do you expect?’ ‘Also the TARDIS is bigger on the inside because…’ Check and mate, I chuckled uproariously and then bought the next round. I might have been annoyed by the glass, but as a criticism of the writing it was pathetic in that it lacked consistency with my other opinions. Oh, the sweet irony.

I know this has been a bizarre post but I think its heart is in the right place. It’s easier to entertain others ideas and accept that you’re wrong when the conversation is ridiculous. More personally, if I can be so plainly wrong and yet emotionally vehement about something as easy going as a TV programme, then sadly I’m probably not much better in assessing the most important questions facing society. In the UK we seem to live in an increasingly polarized country, in which two sides both assume they’re completely right and so end up talking past one another. We need to talk more bollocks to each other and playfully trip each other’s irreverent opinions up. That way when we’re wrong about something important and someone points it out there’s a greater chance that we’ll have developed the skills to acknowledge this.

Of course this could all be a load of old bollocks on my part.

Falling With Style

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This shall be a day long remembered! Only the most ardent of my readers are likely to have read my long winded first post, but to recap when I first embarked upon this blog I set myself the challenge of three, knock your socks off,  are you out of your tiny mind, make you scream ‘I’m alive’ adventures. After several years of the boring and mundane I’d finally put my foot down and decided that this time it would be different. Having resolved myself to completing one every four months, I then entered into a rigorous regime of procrastination in which the wild side of life was forever postponed by the allegedly essential. Thus after a great deal of time passed, I suddenly felt a little low on realizing that this time it wasn’t any different. Only, as the totally crazy photographic evidence above shows, most unexpectedly and quite delightfully, this time it is different! I have undertaken a true out of this world worthy of a bucket list adventure. And as you’re about to find out I loved every precious second of it.

So there I am, strapped to a stranger sitting in a rickety plane flying two miles above the earth and I have to pinch myself it feels like a dream. There’s a red light that’s about to turn green and I can’t help but briefly imagine that I’m a commando on a super-secret mission in a war film. My imagination is working overtime, as I try to ignore the very basic mechanic that I will have to execute in order for this adventure to occur. I usually get a tad frightened on normal plane journeys and that’s without the thought that at some point during the ride I’m going to have to bloody well jump out of it. It turns out I didn’t need to jump, oh no! I had to cumbersomely sit down on the edge of the exit and then as I teetered on the abyss I had to cross my legs and wrap them around the fuselage. I then felt a light tap on my shoulders which was my cue to fall forward like an undignified drunk. Upon reflection, I think I would have much preferred a short swift jump.

Whoosh! The first few seconds of the jump are a total blur as a result of the fifty espressos worth of adrenalin that automatically pumped through my veins on account of me doing something very stupid. I came to my senses a little while in, to find the camera lady falling below trying to grab my attention, she was blowing kisses. I’ve desperately tried to avoid using this word, but it was truly surreal. It sounds mad but after the initial fright of exiting, the experience of falling was a wonderfully pleasant affair. A beautiful majestic scene before me coupled with the exhilarating and calming white noise of the wind gave me a brief moment of ecstatic clarity. It came to a close when the parachute deployed and I suddenly felt like I was pulled up to the heavens.  Looking at the amazing higgledy piggledy farmland below, we now fell gracefully as we gently twirled our way back to earth.  Arriving with a bump, I was brimming ear to ear with joy having experienced the extraordinary.

I can safely say that exiting a plane from extreme height is terrifying but I also cannot recommend this experience highly enough. After the initial shock, the fall is pure magic. I’d like to give a big thank you, to all the wonderful people at the London Parachute School who made this most excellent adventure happen.

I’m Alive!!!

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Word on the Water

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If there’s one word I’d use to describe ‘Word on the Water’, it would be charming. There’s something incredibly magical in the simple idea of combining a canal barge with a book shop. You look at the barge and go wow, it’s quaint, eccentric, and oozes character. Like Herbie the Love Bug, you can’t help but think that it’s alive. You can just picture this beautiful rickety barge in a fantastical story and yet here it is in dull old reality beckoning you to partake in a literary reprieve. It’s not complicated, and one could just write it off as another bookshop with a gimmick. But as a frame for emphasising the wonders and endless possibilities that reading has to offer, I think it is hard to deny that it’s perfect. If I had children this is the first bookshop I would want to take them to. I’m really glad I dropped by this charming bookshop today. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to visit this place but given that it’s so close to some big attractions, platform nine and three quarters anyone, I can find no reason why you shouldn’t swing by. On a sunny day it is truly sublime.

I’m completely exhausted after a most hectic day, so I’m afraid to say that I’ll just let the photo’s do the rest of the talking for me today.

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London’s Monster Supplies

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One of the things I love most about London is the way it can remind you at practically any moment of the sheer wonder and absurdity of existence. Such occurrences are infrequent enough never to be considered dull and yet somehow simultaneously manage to be frequent enough to be considered a regular fixture in one’s life. Bored out of your brains, desperately trying to write something for your blog, you look out the window completely lost only to see a grey hound dressed as an AT AT walker from Star Wars go by. You slip out the door for a closer look, and chuckle as you consider if it’s possible to get arrested for stalking a dog. You don’t get anything written that day, but now you’re armed with a spectacular excuse. Or, there you are on a beautiful summers day, drinking coffee with a friend, completely content, when out of nowhere a hundred odd people dressed as zombies suddenly go by. A brilliant day made brilliant-er by the oddest of occurrences. Or, it’s been a hard day, you listlessly stroll along, deep in thought bemoaning your lot, when suddenly a part of your brain pipes up to inform you that you have just walked past an abandoned Russian tank.  How it got there and who painted it pink, you ask, but there are no immediate answers. Face to face with the inexplicable, all you can do is smile, as whatever you were worrying about suddenly evaporates. No matter ones mood, Lady London will always find ways to interject and remind you of the, sparkling, majestic, joy, that life can offer if you just look around once in a while.

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Quite recently I took the liberty of giving the world a good old look around, and to my considerable good fortune spied a most excellent little oddity. I was in Hoxton market minding my own business when my mind was set ablaze as I beheld a monster supplies shop! Flabbergasted, I quickly checked I wasn’t in Diagon Alley, and once assured of this, simply stood in awe as a sense of childlike wonder came over me. The shop, with the exception of the signs, had the appearance of a painting and decorating supplier. As I entered I noted that the sign outside permitted only one giant to enter at a time. Inside I found a host of interestingly labelled tins and jars. The items had some truly marvellous balderdash written upon them. Having annoyed the invisible cat Wells, I grew concerned that the overly friendly staff might eat me. Fortunately I managed to appease the despicably friendly fiends that managed the shop by making a few purchases. For the record I bought a vague sense of unease and some salt made from the tears of boredom.

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I cannot express the pure whimsical delight that I found myself experiencing on suddenly discovering this place. I later learned that this inexplicable store with its strange supplies helps support the Ministry of Stories, which is an organisation that pairs professional writers with children so as to induct them into the great art of yarn telling. If you’re ever in Hoxton market I strongly recommend you check this place out and while you’re at it be sure to buy some overpriced knick knacks and help this fantastic enterprise out.

In the meantime be sure to keep your eyes peeled for life’s pleasant surprises.

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