Carpe Diem


The article that sits before you dear reader has arrived with the aid of good fortune. The last week has been absolutely horrendous. Monday through Thursday I found myself inundated with endless tedious tasks with no free time to be had anywhere. I found myself dazed and confused on Friday, suddenly recollecting that I now write a blog. What the hell was I going to write about? I scoured the internet and found many exciting things but nothing appealed. Last week I was up for anything, this week nothing! The truth be told, all I wanted to do over the weekend was lay down and die. Thus I did what most people would do in this situation, I went to bed early and told myself not to worry about it, for tomorrow I would seize the day. A piece of wishful thinking so common it should be found on the first page of the procrastinator’s handbook. Only the next day against all odds something extraordinary happened, I did. The account that follows is of a most enjoyable Saturday in which vim and vigour were suddenly found to be in abundance.


I awoke at 5:30am the next day feeling groggy but strangely determined. I made some tea, ate some toast, and in the murky depths of my subconscious a plan slowly came into focus. Two separate pieces of information slotted together cumbersomely to form a deduction that was to transform the day. The first unsurprisingly was the simple observation that I dam well needed to snap out of it man. The second was the realization that there were so many things in London that I always wanted to do but hadn’t, so surely I should do one of these. The initial thought that arose was a recollection of an open air lake that you could swim in at Hampstead Heath but it would be too cold at this time of year. Then it struck me, it was so simple. I needed to court hypothermia in order to bring an end to my malaise and thus find adventure. I set off for Hampstead Heath and having got a little lost I arrived a little before 8:00 am. The next thing I knew I was wearing a pair of swimming trunks and was diving head first into the ice cold depths. I did my best to muffle a most unmanly yelp that accompanied my arrival in the water and then set about swimming in this confounded frosty liquid. I soon decided to match pace with two elderly gentlemen who were sauntering along at what appeared to be an agreeable pace. It then became apparent that swimming in water that is slowly freezing the blood inside your veins is bloody difficult. In no time at all these pensioners were lapping me. My troubles then looked set to get a whole lot worst when four insanely buff gents wearing tight designer speedos that left nothing to the imagination arrived. They jumped into the lake in what made for a quintessential picture of manly fortitude. I need not have worried, within forty seconds these herculean specimens had promptly left the swimming area, no longer tanned but incredibly pale, each congratulating the other on how brave they were. Pah, I said to myself, Pah! I might not be able to keep up with the sixty year olds but at least I’m not a good looking, well endowed, wimp!!! The ice cold water was playing havoc with my judgment. After completing a couple of circuits I left the lake and dried off. It was at this point that the magic happened. My circulation kicked into overdrive and quite all of a sudden I felt euphoric. What’s more, my mind was now rendered crystal clear by the voodoo that is ketosis. It’s not every day that a hair brain scheme that was formed in the early hours actually works. I savoured the moment and then worked out what I wanted to do next.

marble_art_4The itinerary for the day then moved to brunch and a journey to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple in London that again I had been putting off visiting for far too long. The origin of this sublime structure, which is pictured at the very top, is epic. The building is made from marble blocks from Bulgaria, which were subsequently sculpted in India, before being shipped back to the UK. The interior is even more majestic with the marble exquisitely carved in breath taking detail. Understandably they have a no photo policy but I did manage to find the picture above through their website. I found being in the temple an incredibly calming experience. I would even go so far as to say that the magnificent internal architecture somehow brought about a serene state of mind. I find it fascinating how one’s external surroundings can drastically alter how one thinks and feels. It must also be said that the people who ran the show were supremely friendly and all too happy to explain the significance of things. In addition to the temple there is also a mini museum that gave novices like me an insight into the history and principles of Hinduism. My favourite Qi style fact that I learnt in this museum was that the Pythagorean Theorem, the square of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle equals the sum of the square of the two sides, was in fact first proposed in India by Baudhayana. The tour of the temple proved relatively short. After leaving I headed over the road to where they have a great if slightly pricey vegetarian restaurant. All in all, this temple is a positive marvel and personally I feel it deserves as much attention as places such as the Monument and Trafalgar Square get.


At this stage of my adventure, I was now beginning to reap the full benefits of my earlier exercise, my muscles were seizing up. Thus an activity which involved being a couch potato was called for. The last leg of my journey thus involved a pilgrimage to the temple all things gloriously cheesy. The Prince Charles cinema is easily one of my all-time favourite places in London. For those in the cognoscenti this is the ‘Empire Records’ of cinemas. It might not look like much but this place has a brilliant atmosphere, and it regularly presents some of the very best and all time worse movies in existence. I love movies and for a Nostalgia Nerd like me the Prince Charles is the go to cinema.  The movie I settled upon seeing was ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, which I had heard many good things about. Two hours later I emerged from the cinema my tiny mind completely blown by the awesomeness of this movie. My fantastic day at an end I skipped off home my neurons a buzz with life’s possibilities.

Before I leave you to your own fantastic day allow me to present a Haiku review of ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’.

Heartfelt funny joy

Charming tale with man and boy

An instant classic


The Best Beers Brewed in London: Top 5


It has been an exciting development in London over the last ten years (or so) to see a staggering amount of new breweries open. There is simply an abundance of exciting, unusual and occasionally very good beers now being produced here. Call me a sucker for marketing spiel but I just love the idea of a group of friends making some beer in their garden shed and then finding out it’s so unbelievably good that they have to bloody well go start a business. I also like the fact that this trendy development in the city has yet to spark any cultural back lash from critics with a pencil to grind. After all pretty much everyone likes a good beer. Having had nothing exciting happen this week I thought I’d spend the weekend sampling many different London beers with friends and compiling a top five. In no particular order these are the results.


Gamma Ray

The Gamma Ray is hard to miss on the shelf. The can looks like Tim Burton’s ‘Mars Attacks’ with 1950’s flying saucers looking hip and simultaneously reducing humanity to dust! Sadly, I have a confession to make here, the moment I caught sight of a can of this stuff I thought it was the craziest looking beer I’d ever seen. I then promptly concluded that it was trying too hard and that the contents couldn’t possibly live up to the design. How wrong I was. It took a great deal of time for me to try this fine beverage but a friend one fine evening brought me a glass of it without the can in sight. It had a fantastic refreshing zingy grapefruit taste that instantly made me take things easy and enjoy the day. ‘What is this fine brew?’, I asked, at which point my folly was made apparent. This is my Homer Simpson beer it’s ideal for lazing about and watching telly with. The Gamma Ray for me is also an important lesson in giving things a go in life. Readers will be pleased to hear that since this incident I’ve given up judging books by their covers and am now more of a size queen.


Double Perle

Double Perle is a mighty brew, a richly flavoured coffee milk stout, at 8.6% abv it is definitely a sipping beer. A delicious smooth thick creamy texture is the way by which this beer makes its’ introduction. The taste begins rapidly with a pronounced chocolate and coffee taste coming right off the bat. Next a superb vanilla note emerges giving the sweet cappuccino taste already present an interesting dessert twist. Finally a bitter dark chocolate taste lingers unobtrusively at the end. This is a highly balanced beer, the coffee flavour is never overstated and while incredibly sweet it is never sickeningly so. An absolutely marvellous brew, it’s a precious drink to be savoured at the end of a fine day. A luscious velvet treat, that I’d better stop talking about, as I fear I’m beginning to sound like Nigella Lawson crossed with Gollum.


Crate Sour

The Crate Sour can be summed up in one word “interesting”. Many of the beers on this list would be considered an acquired taste but this is the genuine article, a truly acquired taste. In the sense that you first take a few sips and quickly conclude that this is a god awful abomination. Next you take a few more sips and hey presto, as if by magic, you’ve suddenly acquired a taste for it. A sour is basically a beer that has gone off. In short it’s a bad idea that never should have caught on, like eating fugu or drinking cow’s milk. How humanity regularly concocts and promotes such bad ideas is a true mystery to me. Yet in this case the result is magnificent. The Crate Sour is truly splendiferous. It has a wonderful tropical fruit aroma. The taste is a sharp shocking sour sensation that is the equivalent of a bungee jump for the tongue. However, after the initial fright you begin to detect a light fruitiness and a mystifying hint of hibiscus. I’m not a huge fan of sours but this one’s insanely awesome.


Kernel Table Beer

As the name would imply this is a no fuss everyday beer. Nevertheless this gentle refreshing brew with its’ wonderful hoppy citrus flavour is highly drinkable stuff. It might not be bombastically spectacular but it is rather special. Especially given that for a beer with an abv of only 3.3% it packs in an incredible amount of flavour. The fact you can have several bottles of the stuff without any fear of adverse effects is simply a bonus. Quite a few people do complain that this beer is a little watery, yet in my experience it’s not that watery. More to the point, I find this an odd criticism, given that the style of beer under examination is a table beer. It’s like someone saying that they thought Hamlet was a brilliant tragedy but that the sad ending felt unnecessary. Quite simply this is a fantastically crafted table beer that has a mellow nature which pairs perfectly with a glorious summer’s day. I cannot recommend it highly enough.


Fuller’s London Porter

In life one should always save the best till last, and this is it. Fuller’s London Porter is as black as the devils heart and just as tasty. A rich malty brew, it has a chocolaty flavour with a light coffee note and just a hint of smokiness. It is a sophisticated beer that I could drink all day long. This is the granddaddy of London beers, the brew to which all others must be compared. The definitive classic! Fuller’s isn’t some upstart brewery that ironically informs clientele that it was founded in 2008, no it is the original London brewery founded in 1828. And its’ London Porter is the very best it has to offer. This is the Montecristo, the Rolls Royce, the friggin Big Ben of beers. If it was a piece of classical music it would have been composed by Bach, if it was a scientific formula it would make Steven Hawking cry tears of joy, and if it was a painting it would not be hanging in the Louvre cos some bastard would have nicked it. Its awe inspiringly beautiful, delightfully elegant and a good few bottles will get you drunk.

Just in case I’m being too subtle, allow me to summarise, if you love beer buy this!

So those are my Top 5 London Beers! Did I miss out anyone’s favourites? If so post them in the comment section below. Also what did people make of the doodle? I’m thinking of having more for future articles.


Hackney One Carnival: review


Carnivals are bloody marvellous! There’s something so stupendous about a group of people getting together to simply have fun. In London the Notting Hill Carnival is easily the most famous, however there are some smaller but no less spectacular events which really need to be shouted about. Two weekends’ back I attended one of them, the Hackney One Carnival and had a truly most excellent time. Unfortunately my write up was delayed due to the sleep deprived state I found myself in at the end of the event which meant my subsequent write up of said event was pants. Here’s hoping that the second time’s the charm.


On Sunday the 11th I found myself sipping rum from a coconut, on a glorious day, in a fantabulously warm and friendly atmosphere. In fact I dare say that there aren’t enough superlatives in the English language to do the setting justice*. Before the carnival began one was greeted by a mass of food stalls and flags all competing to out smoke the other. There were people hanging out of their bedroom windows in anticipation of the spectacle, some seriously chilled out dudes playing some drums, and some incredibly well prepared tourists with nifty deck chairs.   After a delayed start the procession of awesome sauce made its presence known when a truck laden with speakers laid down some fat beats and set off every car alarm within the vicinity. Thus begun a wondrous marching cacophony of culture!


In the endless multi coloured blitz that followed there were many, amusing, amazing, and darn right odd sights to behold. Highlights included granny pirates, Japanese warlords, steam punk clockwork elephants, daemons, and of course the obligatory scantily clad maidens. My favourite dancing group were the gent’s from Bolivia, with groovy hats and ace jackets that were black with magenta dragoons at the front and had cool glittery blue at the back, these fellows stole the show. It’s a terrible way to describe it, but if you were there you’d agree, that their dance resembled a more jovial Maori war dance. A Maori ‘let’s be friends’ dance if you will. In this amassed hubbub of vibrant energy I found myself completely engrossed in the sights and sounds, completely in the moment. It struck me that everyone appeared to be having an insanely good time. It wasn’t to last. No sooner had I thought this, than a stroppy ten year old wearing the most brilliant spider costume ever, lethargically meandered past in a sulk. The sorrow in his eyes was similar to that of a deadly kitten forced to wear cute reindeer antlers. It’s probably a statement which doesn’t reflect kindly on me, but this made my day. However putting this brief giggling fit of schadenfreude to one side, I must admit that the event really brought out the gentle joyous best in me and everyone else to boot.  At the end of the procession I sat down drank a little more rum and floated off to dance the night away.

I’d highly recommend everyone who hasn’t been to check this event out next year if they can.

*Maybe I’m exaggerating a little.




Nikka from the Barrel Review


The Japanese make some of the best damn Whisky in the world. Unfortunately the price of drams such as Hibiki and Yamazaki have sky rocketed. At the time of writing this a bottle of Yamazaki 18 which once could be purchased for £65 is selling for £450. In such instances one finds that the connection between quality and price has been severed. Investors have elevated the whisky to the realm of status symbol.  As such it is decreed that it may only be quaffed by ego maniacs and the taste bud free dull witted victims of inbreeding. Of course I won’t be the one complaining if I wake up tomorrow to find that all the bottles of whisky I have are now worth a fortune. However until that day I hope the reader will forgive me if I quickly curse the law of supply and demand, and congratulate human stupidity for once again exceeding my expectations.

I do apologise I appear to be ranting, getting back to the topic of Japanese whisky allow me to present salvation! ‘Nikka from the Barrel’ is a most excellent Japanese dram that against all odds has remained thoroughly affordable. It is a truly superb blended whisky with all the elements involved combining seamlessly to make something rather spectacular. It costs around £35 and comes in a simple inconspicuous 50cl bottle that looks more like a bottle of aftershave than a whisky. In fact when I first received a bottle as a birthday present I was rather worried. It has a rather hefty 51.4% abv but you’d never guess that from its’ gentle understated taste. As such I find it an ideal whisky to enliven an evening and promote merry conversation about nonsense.  In my experience even those who profess to hating whisky love this stuff. The nose makes for a fantastic first introduction; it is citrusy with a delightful hint of Japanese oak. The taste has a zesty orange, a wonderful hint of vanilla and a spicy quality reminiscent of Christmas pudding.  I also detect a plum wine note which I think makes it rather special. Finally it has a short dry oak finish that will have you quickly raising your glass for a second sip. All in all I find Nikka from the Barrel a majestic gentle sipping whisky that pairs perfectly with talking bollocks.

Verdict: Get it while you can.

Score: 87/100

Beat Boredom Ride a Rollercoaster


Last week I had a serious case of ennui. I was bored out of my brains and against all reason I couldn’t help but find every single thing in life, dull, dreary, and mind numbingly tedious. Given the truly wondrous nature of existence I find it absolutely extraordinary that humans can achieve this state of existence without the aid of dire circumstances. Nevertheless last week I was in relative luxury and experiencing it! To make matter’s worse I had a spell of unprovoked grumpiness; that horrible state where one feels one ought to be annoyed about something but can’t bloody well find anything to be annoyed about. Finally all of this was topped off by the fact that some git had lent me a ‘fantastic’ book on suicide. In short last week I was a Parisian on existential steroids, given another day of monotony, I swear I would have written an opus on the futility of existence. At times like this, one needs a cunning plan, a mad scheme that will inject a sense of whimsy into one’s life. Unfortunately the state of ennui is not conducive to finding solutions. So in the end I deferred to happenstance and asked a friend what I should do. She told me to get on a rollercoaster and scream my head off like a lunatic. So that’s exactly what I did.

I settled on Thorpe Park as my destination for the simple reason that it was the closest theme park to London I could find.  I arrived, spotted what looked like the biggest bad ass rollercoaster there (Stealth) and immediately joined a very long queue. Fifty minutes of uninterrupted grumbling later and I found myself nonchalantly getting on the rollercoaster. It was at this stage that my sense of ennui went AWOL. I was about to experience something incredibly real and in all that grumbling through the queue I had never once considered that I might not want to go on a rollercoaster. The caveman part of my brain had awoken to find itself in the perilous grasp of a mighty beast. A 21st century woolly mammoth with laser tusks no less. Thirty terrifying seconds later the caveman lived to tell the tale. I was suddenly filled with a sense of elation. The Parisian part of my brain tried to counter the mood by pointing out that life was still inherently futile. The caveman part of my brain retorted, by bonking him over the head with a club. I was having fun again!!!


Over the course of the day, I discovered that there was so much to do and that everything brought an exhilarating rush. Given its relatively small size Thorpe Park packs in a lot of great rides.  All five rollercoasters are absolutely fantastic. I particularly enjoyed ‘Stealth’ which shoots you up and then down a hill at 80mph, and ‘Colossus’ which has an incredible ten inversions. The smaller rides were also great and I would seriously recommend ‘The Slammer’ and ‘Rush’.  The former spins you upside down while the latter swings you about like crazy. (Readers need not thank me for my detailed and accurate ride descriptions). The only ride I’d recommend avoiding is ‘The Detonator’, which is a lift drop thing. I was lulled into going on this ride by a deceptively short queue. Unfortunately the throughput on this ride turned out to be dreadfully slow and the tiny queue turned out to take forty plus minutes. Once on board, the ride proved insanely short and incredibly tame, put simply the cost to screams ratio here was economically unsound.

In conclusion, I had an absolute blast at Thorpe Park. I also learned that boredom is no match for a thoroughly horrific experience.

What do you do to counter the incessant meaninglessness of it all?


The Best Restaurants in Chinatown


Chinatown is one of my favourite places in London. It’s a wonderful unique part of the city with lots of interesting places to explore. For a start there are a few hidden treasures crammed into this small patch of inner London. There’s the experimental cocktail club, a tiny noodle factory in Dansey Place, and of course every year you can come here to see the incredible Chinese New Year celebrations. However it is for the food that most people come to Chinatown, with an incredible eighty plus restaurants located here. Unfortunately a good deal of the food here is on the average side, so allow me to present my guide to the best restaurants I’ve come across. It must be admitted before we begin that I’m no food critic but I do have some modicum of taste, and having tried at least fifty of the restaurants here, I feel I can at least impart some knowledge about the most interesting places to go. So without further ado let’s begin.



For me Hung’s is Chinatown! A bazillion drunken misadventures count this place as their glorious resting place. In my student day’s I had so many wonderful nights in which I ended up drinking a tad too much. Thankfully in such circumstances some part of my brain managed to keep functioning and before too much alcohol could be imbibed it would sound a deep ancestral call that would lead me to salvation. Like some sort of drunken equivalent to a Canadian goose, in the early hours I always knew to head to Hung’s. It was always a joy to slowly come back to my senses in the early hours, in the company of my best friend, some complete stranger who we had dragged along, and some incredibly tasty food. I do not know what magic is at work in this oriental greasy spoon, but I swear that the cure for the hangover resides somewhere on this restaurant’s premises.  Hung’s is open from 10am and remains open until 4am, the food’s delicious and thus there can be no excuse for not trying it once if you’re based in London.


Jen Café

If I could think of one word to sum up this charming green cafe on the corner, it would be Spartan. In an area renowned for its curt and brisk service, Jen’s café finds itself in a league of its own, with endearingly grumpy staff reminiscent of Oscar from Sesame Street. Attempt idle chit chat at your peril dear reader. However it’s not just the enchanting service that you come here for, no, it’s the best dumplings in all of Chinatown which make this café an absolute gem. The dumplings here are pure perfection and one can see them being made fresh every day in the shop window. My personal favourites are the fried ones, as they have a thin crispy outer layer that then quickly leads into a soft doughy centre that melts in the mouth, positively awesome.  Aside from the dumpling’s the rest of the menu is a tad underwhelming, but the dumplings are godly I tell you, and I wholeheartedly recommend that you drop by here sometime for a quick snack.


Tokyo Diner

Next door to Jen’s café is another fantastic no frills restaurant, The Tokyo Diner. A specialist in Japanese food, the restaurant is spread over three levels and has a simple wooden décor that gives it a warm cosy feel.  What I really love about the Tokyo Diner is that it has so many little unique touches. For a start they refuse to take tips, you can increase the amount of rice you have with a meal at no extra cost, and you are always greeted by a complimentary cup of green tea on arrival. Combine these tiny differences with the delicious food here and the result is that you leave with a genuine sense that you’ve been given a taste of another culture. Recently the Tokyo Diner has grown in popularity so expect queues to get in. The dish everyone raves about in this place is the Chicken Katsu Don, which is insanely good. My favourite dish however is the Udon (soupy noodles). It is one of those rare dishes that prove a great comfort as a result of its simplicity. I think in many ways that best sums up the whole feel of this delightful diner.

Tao Tao Ju

Tao Tao Ju

The Tao Tao Ju is a restaurant with a nice atmosphere, some seriously tasty food, and some awfully friendly staff (which in these parts amounts to a small miracle). Yet none of these fine qualities, admirable though they may be, amount to my reason for including it on this list. The fact that it makes the cut is almost entirely down to one thing, that ancient art practiced by drunken masters of all nationalities, namely karaoke. The spiritual power of this social ritual cannot be denied, terrible singers with delusions of grandeur aside, the fact is that karaoke has the magical ability to bring people together. There’s just something so human about it and yet I cannot for the life of me pinpoint what it is. It is perhaps fitting then that the name Karaoke means ‘empty orchestra’, which is some serious mystical sounding shit. However it works, it does, and I highly recommend you hire a booth at the Tao Tao Ju, where you can combine this mystical experience with some fantastic food.  (Just be sure to book in advance).

Duck and Rice

Duck and Rice

The Duck and Rice definitely should not be on this list, for a start it’s not even officially in Chinatown (it’s a tiny walk away in Soho).  Moreover while the food in this establishment is excellent, I think the price just isn’t quite worth it. So how come it made the list? Because it’s a maverick damn it, a Chinese restaurant that follows nobody’s rules, not even its own. Nah, just kidding, the real reason is that this place does the most fantabulous prawn toast ever. In all seriousness it’s definitely worth trying at one time in your life. Thankfully you don’t have to go to the restaurant to try it. The ground floor of this establishment is a bar and has a great selection of craft beers which you can combine with the delicious dish in question. So if you ever fancy a mini adventure when you’re in Chinatown, that may turn out to be a complete disaster due to my subjective opinion, you know where to go. I can already picture death cries from my readers as they realize that a better restaurant was forsaken for a trendy hors d’oeuvre that they have found wanting.


Bar Shu

Sticking with the theme of expensive restaurants that aren’t technically in Chinatown but are literally across the street, allow me to introduce for your delectation Bar Shu. A restaurant that specialises in the fiery cuisine of Sichuan province. It differs significantly from most places in Chinatown which tend to offer Cantonese cuisine, and over the last few years’ food critics appear to have gone positively barmy for this restaurant. The food on offer here is delicious and incredibly spicy, more specifically this place is renowned for the unique way it mixes unusual flavours and textures. The dishes on offer often combine, hot, sweet, and sour, flavours. The result is that the meal you order is often greater than the sum of its parts. To enter the realm of hyperbole briefly, by the time I had finished my first meal here I felt that I had experienced a well-orchestrated cacophony of flavours the like of which I’d never tasted before. Do not worry about the fact that you will likely not have a clue about what to order, the staff here are fairly friendly and more than happy to help you choose a selection of dishes. I have a feeling that given time this style of food will really catch on across the country, but in the mean time you might like to give it a whirl the next time you’re in Chinatown, just try not to have a heart attack when you’re handed the bill at the end.


Four Seasons

There are two Four Seasons in Chinatown that’s how popular they are, and both are famed nay renowned for offering the most awesome roast duck in all of Chinatown. If you order the roast duck in either establishment then you will soon be greeted with a truly superb dish. Nicholas Lander of the Financial Times goes as far as to assert that this is the best roast duck in the world. Putting such grand assertions to one side, I can at least say that it’s pretty damn good. The dish in question consists of delightful thin boneless slices of tender duck, which possess a wonderfully crisp sweet soya sauce infused skin. The result is a veritable taste sensation. The rest of the food on offer is unfortunately quite average; it’s not bad by any means, but it doesn’t come close to matching the duck. Quite simply if duck is your favourite dish, then this is where it’s at, if not then this is not the restaurant you are looking for.


Joy King Lau

Joy King Lau is an unassuming place and one of my favourite restaurants in Chinatown. It is home to some superb crispy noodles and has a fantastic dim sum menu that includes such unusual and exciting dishes as, Octopus Curry, Marinated Duck Tongue, and Drunken Chicken Feet. I think I like this place so much, because in a case of pure happenstance the noodles there match perfectly the one’s that I ordered so many years ago at the first Chinese restaurant I ever went to. Given that said restaurant no longer exists, I was absolutely ecstatic to discover Joy King Lau. Nostalgia aside, this restaurant is in my wholly inexpert opinion a wonderful place which is off the beaten track and well worth a try. However I must also impart a warning about this restaurant to my readers. Located on the second floor is the gentleman’s toilet which has a rather unique feature. I discovered it on my first visit, it made its presence known to me by means of a frosty chill, by which I came to notice a massive window which was wide open and overlooked the main street. It soon occurred to me that anyone looking up could see my Johnson going about its business. I trust you will all learn from my mistake!


Candy Café

Tucked away on Macclesfield Street, is a little door, with a tiny sign, and some rickety stairs, that either lead straight to heaven or a sugary grave, depending on your outlook on life. Once inside you’ll find a small room with a drab interior but for heaven’s sake don’t be put off. The candy café is a pure delight that specialises exclusively in Asian deserts and bubble teas. The deserts here are well portioned, all under a fiver, and amazing. Personal favourites here include green tea ice cream and anything with mango. I truly adore this place it brings out the child in me and sends me on a glorious sugar high. One time I even left with the thought that world peace is indeed possible. It’s just a simple matter of fact that diplomacy needs more ice cream. In short this place always has me brimming with light heartedness, and in such a crazy world that can’t be a bad thing.

So those are my favourite places in Chinatown. Did I miss out somewhere totally unbelievable, am I a cotton headed ninny muggins, or do you agree with all my opinions and wish to help me create the greatest echo chamber of mutual-congratulation that the internet has ever seen. Whatever your views, be sure to post in the comment section below.




Kitty Heaven: My Trip to the Cat Village

Cat Oscar

Earlier this week I decided to check out a Cat Café, which as the name would imply is a coffee establishment containing tons of glorious and oh so adorable kitty cats. A delightful concept that appears to have originated in Japan, it is fast becoming a big hit in London, with several businesses opening up across the city. I opted for the Cat Village which is located in trendy Shoreditch. You know, the place best known for spawning a business that destroyed western civilization by selling overpriced cereal!!!  In all honesty the hatred that Shoreditch elicits in some people is quite remarkable, in the case of a shop selling cereal at jacked up prices it is beyond thunderdome. Seriously, you’d think some newspapers were talking about Neo Nazis as opposed to some shop with a silly gimmick. If you’re a journalist pouring all your vitriol into an article whose message simply amounts to ‘why can’t you buy an overpriced coffee like the rest of us’, then maybe it’s time you visited a war zone and got some perspective.



I do apologise I appear to be ranting, getting back to the topic of all things feline, the cat village proved to be a stupendous establishment founded on a silly gimmick. The logistics of the place are quite simple you pre-book an hour time slot which costs five pounds per person and then go along at said time for your hour in kitty heaven. The amenities available are pretty good and costs are in line with Starbuck’s prices, I’d especially recommend the peanut butter cookies. As for the Cats they are incredibly agreeable fellows, with quite a few breeds on display across two floors. The Café does have one drawback and you’ll notice it the moment you step in the door, namely that seventeen cats in a confined space are no substitute for potpourri. Thankfully you soon get used to it, and before you know it you’ll find yourself in a magical environment surrounded by adults behaving like children, seeking out their kitty overlords so that they may pay tribute to them. Honestly I don’t think cats have had it this good since ancient Egypt. The humans clearly get a lot out of it too, how a cute furry creature can so quickly bring out such tender warmth and kindness in a person is truly one of the wonders of the universe. It was great fun looking at all the serene people in the café and trying to work out which ones are total bastards in the workplace. All in all, I found the experience very relaxing, especially after a hectic day. I can understand that some people might find the experience dull as it really is ‘just’ a café with lots of Cats. However, I for one welcome our kitty overlords.

Lagavulin 16 Review


In my experience adventure involves two stages. First you decide to do something new and exciting in life only to instantly regret it. Next the adventure is over and despite your early misgivings you’ve somehow decided that it was the greatest thing ever. Whisky pairs perfectly with these stages. In total fear it suddenly dawns on you that you want a whisky. Afterwards you get pretentious about it as you start wondering what whisky could possibly be apt to end such an extraordinary day. For the past week I have been contemplating what should be the first whisky I review on this blog. I wanted something, bold, nuanced, and which you might not appreciate the first time you try it; in short a mini adventure in itself. In the end the decision was simple and that rather bothered me. So I racked my brain a great deal more and still came to the same conclusion. The answer was to be found in the Islay region of Scotland where the whisky is famed for its intense smoky flavours, more specifically at the Lagavulin distillery.

Lagavulin 16 is absolute magic. It brings together a wide array of distinct and intense flavours and orchestrates their delivery with such panache so as to leave the drinker, awestruck, dumbfounded, and slightly worried that this fine beverage may well have been stolen from the gods. The nose is devilishly smoky with a hint of sweetness. The drink itself begins with a dry toffee note which quickly builds into an incredibly sweet sherry flavour. It then develops a salty hint before an incredibly powerful peat finish!

The only problem with Lagavulin 16 is that one has an intense desire to savour a bottle but simultaneously knows that with exposure to oxygen over time its powerful peat finish will diminish. This has led some fools (myself included) to stick tapers (fire) into the bottle to kill off the oxygen. More sensible individuals simply place the liquid into smaller containers. Such people know nothing of the endless amusement that comes from being drunk with a bottle perched between your legs, a taper down its neck and the macabre thought that at any moment an incident involving spontaneous combustion could destroy any hopes of future progeny. It was no doubt the memory of such foolhardy escapades that prompted me to review this particular whisky first and a fine choice it has proven. After a truly most excellent day of adventuring it always brings a mellow and contemplative close to proceedings.

Mark: 90/100

Verdict: Legendary

Sensory Deprivation Review



Nothing, it’s quite hard to get excited about. Nevertheless I can’t help but feel after my recent experience in a sensory deprivation tank that it’s pretty damn interesting and in moderate doses quite exhilarating. Sensory deprivation tanks are designed to shut you off from the real world. Basically you lay inside them unable to see or hear anything, floating on a thin layer of salty water that matches your body temperature. I’d wanted to try one of these things for ages. Several friends had tried sensory deprivation and they had all reported startlingly different experiences. One friend said they had communed with the universe; another informed me that it had driven them into a fit of uncontrollable laughter, and last but by no means least was the statement that it was the most boring experience, ever, ever, ever. Last week I went along to Floatwork’s, which is located in Vauxhall to try it out myself. After filling out some paper work I was directed to a room with a shower and a giant pod that wouldn’t look out of place in the film ‘Alien’. I opened the pod and got in quite excitedly for my inaugural blog adventure!


At first I lay there, listening to some relaxing music that wouldn’t be out of place in a lift, thankfully it soon stopped and after experiencing a brief sense of relief, I soon found myself alone with my thoughts. It’s amazing how many pointless thoughts that are neither silly nor interesting cross one’s mind over the course of the day. It is even more remarkable how when cut off from the outside world, such thoughts come flooding in, as if to create some sort of S.O.S to reality. My S.O.S ran as follows ‘is this salty water going to bring me out in a rash, it’s too late to worry about it now, WHY are you worrying about it, for goodness sake don’t rub your eye’s, I didn’t want to until you mentioned it’. The message repeated several times and then it suddenly stopped, that’s when things got really interesting.


I had expected my mind to move on to silly and amusing thoughts next, but instead I suddenly began to feel like I was gently turning in a whirlpool, even though this was quite impossible.  It’s a strange thing to say, but I sort of realized that for a while my mind had maintained the model of me located in a pod, even though I couldn’t see or feel it. However with nothing to maintain this model, it suddenly let go of it and I now felt like I was in the middle of an ocean. My mind started to become incredibly focused on the whirlpool movement that I was experiencing and quite by accident the incessant chatter of my mind fell completely silent. I wasn’t thinking anything, not even ‘holy cow I’m not thinking anything’. Then the whirlpool movement stopped and I was just aware of an emptiness. My awareness shifted in intensity as my mind struggled to find something, anything that it could latch on to. Finally it just accepted the emptiness and I just sat there. A good while passed, the lift music returned and the real world beckoned. For the rest of the day I felt really good, in the zone, like Bill Bailey after he swallows the little book of calm in Black Books.

In short I can highly recommend this experience, and if you’ve already tried sensory deprivation it would be great to hear of your experiences in the comment section below.

Be Most Excellent…


“Be excellent to each other. And… PARTY ON, DUDES” (Abraham Lincoln San Dimas 1988)

At the age of eight I came across Bill and Ted, two fellow hapless idiots in life with a kick ass philosophy that did not involve incomprehensible books nor require the invention of angst by a Danish Dude. Bill and Ted had a simple message that I thought was the greatest thing ever when I was a kid. Namely that one’s goal in life was to be incredibly kind to others while simultaneously enjoying awesomely cool adventures. At the age of eight I had figured life out, or to put it another way ‘that movie had warped my fragile little mind’.  The following week I watched Star Wars for the first time and began to seriously contemplate a Jedi career path. Fast forward to my late twenties and I suspect that my eight year old self would be dismayed with where his life choices had taken him. My life is good at the moment, but I am somewhat alarmed at how quickly the impractical, silly, and foolish pursuits of life have been replaced with regular exercise, house price worries, and an unnatural passion for Timetables. To add to this my friends appear to be adopting practical habits even faster than I am. I used to be able to rely on my friends for foolhardy schemes and silly conversations, now they give useful advice on mortgages and host dinner parties that are hailed as refined and sophisticated. Said occasions feature, dips, candles, and take place in homes filled up with so much Ikea furniture that one could be forgiven for thinking a Nazi had decorated the place. Of course there is nothing wrong with practical pursuits, regular exercise has been a very positive change to my life (and I secretly love dinner parties). The problem is that in developing such useful practical habits the whole idea of swashbuckling shenanigans and spectacular adventures appears to have been jettisoned in the process.  Acting on the idea of developing efficient routines to get the most fun out of life, I appear to have actually got rid of the fun part. The whole point of this blog then is to change that, to rekindle the fun crazy and silly side of life. To accept that there are many areas where practical efficiency is great for my life but to simultaneously realize that there’s always space to be a part time Jedi too.

So having decided that a healthy dose of adventure was required to vanquish the monotony that had crept into my life, the key question then became so what now?  My immediate reaction was to think of travels to faraway lands and daring activities such as leaping out of a plane; however such thoughts were soon brought to a halt by my bank balance. I realized that I could probably afford at most four proper adventures within a year, briefly ignoring reality I fired up the computer and looked at the insanely cool stuff you could do in exchange for a pretty penny.  I found an endless array of awesomeness ranging from, ice hotels in Sweden, swimming with sharks, to the utterly bonkers bungee jump into an active volcano. I soon settled on three things to try with the hope of a fourth should the Gods allow it, they are as follows, skydiving, fire walking, and a trip to Venice. I now returned to the problem that three brief adventures, no matter how exciting, are no match for a dull routine. Faced with a giant gaping hole in my life that needed filling the next thought that sprang to mind was Whisky!


I had earlier given some thought to the fact that the silly and preposterous fripperies that I intended to engage in, would likely play havoc with my nerves. Thankfully dear reader I came upon the whisky solution. I had recalled that Ernest Shackleton hadn’t dared gone adventuring in the Antarctic without packing ample supplies of his favourite tipple (Mackinlay’s). I soon realized that I couldn’t possibly broach the subject of leading a more adventurous and exciting life without whisky.  I briefly entertained the thought that my line of reasoning in this matter was self-serving, given that I happened to be incredibly fond of whisky with or without life’s excitements. Fortunately such concerns were quickly ameliorated by the fine beverage in question. A few more drinks and I entered a sublime state of mind and soon realized that whisky was integral to all adventurous enterprises. In fact to be without it in such endeavours was to court disaster. It was thus my blogging duty to regularly inform my readers, who presumably were hell-bent on dangerous pursuits themselves, of the fine drams available to them. It then suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t actually solved the problem of not having enough activities to break up my monotonous routine. However looking on the bright side I realized that my train of thought had been a spectacular and indeed necessary dead end. I thus returned to my original difficulty with new energies.

The time it took me to find my answer was embarrassingly long, but who cares, this slow learner got there in the end. The answer to my difficulties was obvious, and luckily on my doorstep, London. Put millions of people in a small space teaming with endless possibilities and you will find endless opportunities for adventures. London is filled to the brim with interesting and bonkers things to do, but why would you do them I hear some people screaming. The answer to this question can be found a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… when a good friend of mine forced me to try laughter yoga out. Laughter Yoga is scientifically proven to be fantastic for you; it involves a person forcing themselves to laugh in order to produce lots of feel good chemicals. Despite this I have no wish to try it again. The key issue I had with laughter yoga is that it’s awkward, insanely awkward. However, and perhaps rather surprisingly, I do not regret trying it. Laughing out loud in public, with a group of strangers, in time to the theme tune from the movie Terminator, is an utterly magic way to find out you don’t want to do something ever again. The way I see it I could have discovered a great way to feel a lot better in my life, instead I found out I hated it and got a silly story in the process.  And that dear reader is the whole intention of this blog, to reintroduce the grown up me who likes timetable’s, to the pointless, nonsensical, and darn right stupendous parts of life.  Thus I hope you will join me for what promises to be some most excellent adventures.

Party on Dudes!!!!!!