There are now quite a few pubs in London with a video game theme, but my favourite by a considerable margin is The Four Quarters in Peckham. For the simple reason that it is a no frills no nonsense classic arcade. Other pubs I’ve been to let you play games with your friends on flat screen monitors, undeniably fun, but The Four Quarters invites you to play with friends upon the mystical cabinets of awesome that robbed an entire generation of their precious pocket money during the 80s and early 90s.
As a very small child the bright dazzling lights and the odd beeping sounds of these gaming monoliths beckoned me to partake in an otherworldly adventure. As a teenager I eventually got to join the legions of zombified gamers that huddled around these magnificent machines in neon lit rooms. I had an absolute blast wasting my life away in this manner. Unfortunately by this stage in time there were barely any arcades left in London and I only very rarely got to visit the Trocadero (now closed) for some gaming fun. Despite this the Arcade left a lasting impression on me and I always felt it was more exciting than sitting around the house and just playing games on a console. What can I say I’m a sucker for some glitz and glamour! Thus my imagination has continued to hold on to the magic of these retro gaming machines with some reverence.
It came as a fantastic surprise then when I randomly came across a low key pub filled to the brim with classic gaming machines. I was on my way to visit a friend and was a little early when I walked past a rather tatty looking bar with an odd name. Noticing the video game theme I couldn’t help but have a quick look inside. I instantly beheld so many classic gaming machines, there was Pac Man, Time Crisis 2, Golden Axe, Street Fighter 2, and good lord is that the legendary Simpson’s arcade game. I never stood a chance!!! To make matters worse they had an extensive range of whisky to boot, the owner being a big fan of the amber nectar. Suffice it to say I met my friend a good deal later than intended. As an hour plus of button smashing went by in a minute. A return trip is definitely on the cards this week, as I had a super nostalgia infused whale of a time. If you live in South London and are in the mood for a mellow night of classic gaming The Four Quarters is where it’s at.
Last week this Blog turned one!!! And in typical fashion I’ve only just got round to celebrating this momentous event. Started on a diabolical whim, I certainly would not have predicted that one year on I would still be writing for this fine publication. Let alone that some people would have actually bothered to read it. To all you wonderful people that have read commented and seemingly enjoyed my random musings, I truly cannot thank you enough! It has been an absolute joy to witness this half-baked idea rise to the lofty heights of a fluffy Victoria sponge. Admittedly in the last six months my posts have become rather sporadic but I solemnly swear that in the coming months I’ll pull up my socks and get back to blogging form. In the meantime I hope you will join me in celebrating this anniversary dear reader and by spontaneously breaking into dance to this awesome tune from Kool and the Gang. Now that I’ve finished getting my groove on around my living room, allow me to present…
My Top 5 Moments of the Blogging Year
I think it’s safe to say that epic feats of daring do have been few and far between this year. Nevertheless I think I made up for this in one fell swoop, by falling out of a plane in the most awkward manner imaginable. Against all odds I loved every second of this experience. Read on here!
The Harry Potter studio tour quite simply set my imagination ablaze this year. From the moment I found myself standing in the great hall of Hogwarts I was off in a world of my own. I left pretending to ride an invisible broomstick, which says it all really. Read on here!
I had a delightful moment of Zen in the Kyoto Garden this year. Located within Holland Park this Japanese garden may be tiny but it is absolutely stunning and I’m very pleased with some of the photographs I got on my trip. Read on here!
I love those random moments in adventures that you could never have predicted beforehand. I was dumbfounded this year, when swimming in ice cold waters on Hampstead Heath I suddenly found myself being lapped by old age pensioners. However my absolute highlight of the year came when some lovely people ensured I had a blooming marvellous time playing crazy golf. Read on here!
A surreal neon dreamscape where you can sip a coffee, I was truly blown away by the spectacle that is God’s Own Junkyard. Located in the back of beyond (Sorry Walthamstow), this is the very definition of a hidden gem. Read on here!
So that in a nutshell marks the end of my first year of Blogging. Here’s to many more years of London, Whisky, and Adventure.
Oh and to talking even more Bollocks!!!
Mayhem Paintball is a huge site for big kids to play, it provides carnage on a truly epic scale, and you’ll leave with a big grin on your face thoroughly prepared for the coming zombie apocalypse! Located on the edge of London, it is very easy to get to via the central line, with the company taking you the rest of the way with a pick up at Theydon Bois station. There are sixteen arenas here which are wonderfully constructed containing, tanks, crashed helicopters, and the like. The staff are super friendly thus ensuring a good day out. After a week littered with WTF moments, I was just about ready to drive out to a serene waterfall and drown someone in it. Thus as another fraught week loomed I prepared by booking some kick ass paintball action with a group of friends. The days went by like a cool summer’s breeze; people irritated me, annoyed me, and exasperated what little patience I had left for the so called rules of civilization. Yet every time I approached breaking point I found hidden reserves of equanimity, as I simply meditated on the happy go lucky image of blasting random strangers to kingdom come with balls of paint. If Marcus Aurelius grew up in the 90’s and was around to behold my stoicism, he’d say ‘dude, that guy’s, like, totally chilled dealing with those fart-knockers’.
Then the day finally came, fuelled with pent up rage and randomly giggling like a megalomaniac/teenage girl I boarded the train, destination fun. Only for disaster to then strike! Everyone faces that moment in their life when they suddenly realize their frailty in the face of time. For me, there’s also that time I sat down so rapidly on an improperly cushioned seat that I rendered my bum entirely numb. Sitting on the train I writhed in agony as all happy go lucky images of briefly becoming death incarnate evaporated. I arrived at Mayhem Paintball dilapidated and only able to hobble. The first two games went by in a flash as I was taken out rapidly, a fainting goat among the dogs of war. Yet the rage of several mental weeks could not be tamed and in an adrenalin fuelled frenzy I staged a comeback. Game three saw some mild improvement but the best was yet to come. Game four; I became the terminator, slickly dispatching five enemies in rapid succession all while unintentionally imitating the juddering movements of a chicken. It was glorious! After that I returned to hobbling form for the rest of the games, but having had my moment is the sun, I ended the day as happy go lucky as I went. Quite simply, Mayhem Paintballing is an ace form of stress relief and I thoroughly recommend it to all.
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.
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.
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.
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.