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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last week I had a reader request a few more photo’s of Pollocks toy museum, so as to get a real sense of this little wonder. Ever keen to bring reading satisfaction, LWA is proud to present, by popular demand, a second helping of toy treasures.
I do apologise for the terrible reflections in some of the photo’s but it was unavoidable given the sunny day! Looking back over all these treasures, I must say that I fancy another trip. I do hope the photos will inspire a few people reading to venture forth and visit this most excellent museum.
A museum full of toys that has a name that rhymes with bollocks. It’s fair to say that Pollock’s was an easy sell for this big kid. It specializes in 19th century toys but has a wide array of playthings from all sorts of periods. Sadly a few highlight the offensive attitudes that Europeans have held at various moments in history. Thankfully the sparkling joy of childhood play makes up the majority of the items. Like so many of the unusual museums that are dotted around this part of the city Pollock’s is on the small side and some may be put off by the £6 entrance fee. I’m so glad I wasn’t one of them. It may be on the small side, but there are intriguing sights and items of interest everywhere in Pollock’s. Little gems included, the saucy Fraulein’s from 1925 with a string that lifts up their skirts, a four thousand year old clay rat from ancient Egypt that has moving wooden tail and mouth, and oh look Buzz and Woody are attempting to escape the museum! I also really liked the row of Russian nesting dolls that had Brezhnev, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin at the centre. It didn’t make my top three little gems though. It could have but alas where for art thou Putin?
My favourite section in the museum without a doubt was filled with giant toy theatres. They were so beautifully crafted, with such an amazing eye for detail. One could imagine what a delight to play with they were, and I could just picture kids putting on a play with cardboard cut outs for Mum and Dad to enjoy. A close second in the favourites department was a room packed to the rafters with exquisite and oh so creepy Victorian dolls. The creaking wooden floors of the museum added an atmosphere of suspense and for a moment I could not help but feel that I was in a horror film. I should also mention the awesome 1950’s alien, robot, spaceman, Goodness. How could I possibly forget that! As a child who was constantly pew pewing laser death at the world, these incredible tin toys were my childhood dreams come to life!!! At the end of the museum tour one is faced with the ultimate test of willpower, a shop full of toys. I was dismayed by how many grownups effortlessly succeeded at this ultimate test. Let me assure you dear reader that I was not one of them. All in all, I had a rather jolly and dare I say it fanciful hour of imaginary wondering walking round this museum. I definitely recommend the trip.
Having done a ton of work last week and organized what I hope will prove a most excellent Bachelor’s Party; I was most pleased to suddenly have a day all to myself. At last time to read philosophy, create art, and realize my potential! To be honest I mostly watched TV and worked on my couch potato skills. Nevertheless the day was not without some adventure. For today I put pay to life’s boring bits and enjoyed some silly fun with a spot of golf in the City. Located right next to the Gherkin, Swingers is a terrific bar which has two awesome and dare I say it fiendish pitch and putt courses inside it. Entry is yours for a mere ten pounds. A great deal of my cousins are amazing at golf, I mean they’ve won trophies and stuff. As such, I’ve always harboured delusions that I would one day try golf and just find that I’m super humanly good at it. Thus today I was really looking forward to playing with my friend, stoked by the fantasy of finding a hidden talent. Unfortunately the bounder never showed up and sent a txt at the last second with a lame excuse as to why. Thus Johnny no mates found himself playing golf all alone.
On this day however, the Gods were with me! It wasn’t long after I started to play, that I was joined by three incredibly kind staff members, Soli, Jasmine, and Ally. They let me try the second course for free, bought me a drink, and were fantastic fun. So a huge THANK YOU to them. On the hidden talent front, initial evidence was promising. I got a hole in one on an insanely difficult shot that involved a jump. Further scientific investigation though, indicated this to be a complete fluke. At the end of the day, it was hard not to conclude that my innate talent was average maximus. The real star in our group was Jasmine, who pulled off some super smooth shots and made it look easy, she won by a mile. All in all, I had a wonderful time at Swingers and think it’s a great bar to go to if you’re in the mood for some kick ass shenanigans. Once again I’d like to thank the super kind, Soli, Jasmine, and Ally, who went above and beyond the call of duty to make my day blooming brilliant. I cannot recommend this place highly enough.
The common reaction of most people on seeing a bottle of this stuff for the first time is a look of bewildered bemusement, as they try to work out how the hell you’re meant to pronounce Poit Dhubh. I have it on good authority (the back of the bottle) that it’s pronounced Potch Ghoo and that it’s Gaelic for illicit still. Though I must confess that I’m still a little baffled as to how one gets from reading Poit Dhubh to saying Potch Ghoo, but I digress. Four years ago I received my first bottle of Potch Ghoo for Christmas, I had never heard of this blended whisky from the Isle of Skye before, and hence was a little dubious as to the quality of the contents of the bottle. As so often in life, I need not have worried, as the contents proved positively mind blowing. A fantastic whisky most people had never heard of, it soon became a frequent topic of conversation. More recently I was in a newsagent and to my considerable surprise I discovered perched on their top shelf a single bottle of this uncommon whisky. I wasted no time at all and immediately bought the bottle, eager to discover whether my younger self had a bloody clue in what he was talking about!!!
Anyhoo enough with the backstory, let’s get on to the tasting notes of this magnificent dram! The nose has some honey, a hint of sea salt, plenty of sherry, and a pleasant smokiness that has an uncanny resemblance to the smell of the vanilla tobacco that a friend uses. The drink itself is full of twists and turns. Initially one is presented with incredibly sweet honey, next a toffee note, followed by salted caramel, some sherry, a zingy bitter lemon then emerges, before a delightful peat draws proceedings to a close. The finish is fairly long; it’s peppery, with plenty of peat, some oak, and a faint reminder of sherry. In this manner, Poit Dhubh delivers a wondrous drinking experience. A fantastic quality whisky, of considerable complexity, at a decent price, I strongly recommend you give it a try.
Verdict: A nimble acrobatic display of varied flavours!