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.

london_cat_village_cafe_5

 

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

Laguvulin-16

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

 

flotation_tank_isolation_tank

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…

bill-teds-excellent-adventure

“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!

whiskey

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!!!!!!