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.
This shall be a day long remembered! Only the most ardent of my readers are likely to have read my long winded first post, but to recap when I first embarked upon this blog I set myself the challenge of three, knock your socks off, are you out of your tiny mind, make you scream ‘I’m alive’ adventures. After several years of the boring and mundane I’d finally put my foot down and decided that this time it would be different. Having resolved myself to completing one every four months, I then entered into a rigorous regime of procrastination in which the wild side of life was forever postponed by the allegedly essential. Thus after a great deal of time passed, I suddenly felt a little low on realizing that this time it wasn’t any different. Only, as the totally crazy photographic evidence above shows, most unexpectedly and quite delightfully, this time it is different! I have undertaken a true out of this world worthy of a bucket list adventure. And as you’re about to find out I loved every precious second of it.
So there I am, strapped to a stranger sitting in a rickety plane flying two miles above the earth and I have to pinch myself it feels like a dream. There’s a red light that’s about to turn green and I can’t help but briefly imagine that I’m a commando on a super-secret mission in a war film. My imagination is working overtime, as I try to ignore the very basic mechanic that I will have to execute in order for this adventure to occur. I usually get a tad frightened on normal plane journeys and that’s without the thought that at some point during the ride I’m going to have to bloody well jump out of it. It turns out I didn’t need to jump, oh no! I had to cumbersomely sit down on the edge of the exit and then as I teetered on the abyss I had to cross my legs and wrap them around the fuselage. I then felt a light tap on my shoulders which was my cue to fall forward like an undignified drunk. Upon reflection, I think I would have much preferred a short swift jump.
Whoosh! The first few seconds of the jump are a total blur as a result of the fifty espressos worth of adrenalin that automatically pumped through my veins on account of me doing something very stupid. I came to my senses a little while in, to find the camera lady falling below trying to grab my attention, she was blowing kisses. I’ve desperately tried to avoid using this word, but it was truly surreal. It sounds mad but after the initial fright of exiting, the experience of falling was a wonderfully pleasant affair. A beautiful majestic scene before me coupled with the exhilarating and calming white noise of the wind gave me a brief moment of ecstatic clarity. It came to a close when the parachute deployed and I suddenly felt like I was pulled up to the heavens. Looking at the amazing higgledy piggledy farmland below, we now fell gracefully as we gently twirled our way back to earth. Arriving with a bump, I was brimming ear to ear with joy having experienced the extraordinary.
I can safely say that exiting a plane from extreme height is terrifying but I also cannot recommend this experience highly enough. After the initial shock, the fall is pure magic. I’d like to give a big thank you, to all the wonderful people at the London Parachute School who made this most excellent adventure happen.
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.
I’m sitting in a café enjoying a rather splendid hot chocolate. All around me is a delirious, dizzying, neon dreamscape. David Bowie songs play out in the background, while a bizarre spectacle of sights slowly make themselves known. There’s so much going on here that my mind can’t take it all in at once. Instead my attention picks out broad themes one at a time, my environment shifting like a kaleidoscope as, religion, sex, and advertisements, all come in and out of focus. Hope, hedonism, and the promise of convenience all fight for my attention. Meanwhile macabre notes lurk, Jesus is packing heat, a shark is devouring a teddy bear, and behind me is a garden shed with a car on top of it running over a goblin. I’m in God’s Own Junkyard and it’s bloody marvellous.
Located in inconspicuous surroundings, God’s Own Junkyard is a one of a kind with quite a history behind it. The oldest neon sign makers in London, three generations of the Bracey family have worked in the business of neon signs. From the lusty streets of 1970s Soho to the film sets of Hollywood this place has done signs for everyone. For instance, Professor Green, Kate Moss, The Dark Knight, and Blade Runner, to name but a few. What’s more I hear that they will quite happily do one for your living room without costing you an arm and a leg. I must say that I’m quite tempted to get one.
It’s almost time for me to head back to the real world. I take a few moments to really take in the glitz and glamour that I’ve suddenly found myself in. Sometimes I wish there was a lot more of such unrestrained eccentric flamboyance. Then again, that might amount to a dystopian nightmare with a federal bureau of sparkle. That’s what I love most about these incredible signs, they have a dual personality. They’re captivating objects of incandescent positivity. Yet as I stare spellbound at them, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m a moth unable to detect a malignant power that spells my doom. The result of this combination gives God’s Own Junkyard a truly otherworldly feel. As shops with twinkly lights go, this one is absolutely mind blowing.
Amazingly I had never ever heard of this place until I started blogging. Please check out the review that inspired this trip here.
Having put pay to a dreadful bout of flu last week, I was pleased to return to adventuring form with an intriguing find that I had been intending to check out for some time. The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, is as the name would suggest a most peculiar and excellent London oddity! It combines a majestic cocktail bar at the top, with a tiny museum of the strange and deranged at the bottom. The bar is wonderfully salubrious and despite its odd decor it is an incredibly easy place to unwind and chill out in. The staff here struck me as the most fantastic friendly folk that you could ever well meet in a drinking establishment. They were talkative, welcoming, and more than a tad silly. Upon being seated by the delightful fish tank I was informed that I was the master of the sea kingdom.
The whisky based cocktail I had here proved a massive hit, but alas I do not recall its name, perhaps a sign of the quality of the evening. I do recall an epic spiel that said it gave a whisky twist to something, which was a play on something else, with the something else in question in the latter being an alternative take on some classic. All I know for sure is that it tasted stupendously good and turned out to be a slippery ninja assassin in disguise. For it gave no indication that its contents would intoxicate, and once past the sentry quickly precipitated a journey to cloud cuckoo land. I may have arrived at this fine establishment on my feet, but I can assure you dear reader that I left floating.
After paying the tidy sum of five pounds I walked down a mysterious spiral staircase and entered a phantasmagorical den. The museum is a bizarre mix of, knick knacks, historical items, macabre taxidermy, and disturbing erotica. Many of the items have tiny hand written descriptions on them, some of which are most imaginative. It’s hard to sum up the experience, other than saying this is a genuine traditional curiosity museum. Unfortunately this is an odd thing for me to declare; given that it’s the only curiosity museum I’ve ever been to. I somehow doubt that watching all of Disney’s Gravity Falls has given me some special insight into what makes a great curiosity museum. No matter how much I’d like to think so. Nevertheless I’m going to stand by my declaration. This place somehow left me with the impression that this is exactly what a curiosity museum should be. It is a one off, something truly remarkable, and which I wish was a lot bigger. So long as you’re not easily scared or offended you should definitely check out The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities!!!
Unfortunately I’ve come down with the flu this week and have been put well and truly out of action. It is a well-known fact that a regular weekly tipple renders one impervious to the diseases of mere mortals. Thus when I say I’m sick, one is left to wonder what strange herculean germs could have brought about this diabolical condition. I’m currently rocking a high fever that is off the charts, my hallucination of Doc Brown is currently screaming ‘one point twenty one Gigawatt’s’. So you know it’s bad. As a result, foolhardy escapades, rumbustious shenanigans, and flights of fancy to London’s hidden gems, have all been rendered out of the question. My stock and trade dear reader, ruined. An expert at feeling sorry for myself and a champion at reading tragedy into the smallest of setbacks, I knew this fine publication was done for. I had failed, all I had left to write was an obituary for my blog. It was at this stage in my ruminations that the doorbell rang.
A parcel had arrived, containing the insanely cheesy festive treat that is ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’. I beheld in wonder an early present. I wasted no time in sticking it on and after eighty six glorious minutes I arose the very definition of festive cheer, though the rosy cheeks were wholly down to the flu. It is ridiculous how easily I focus on life’s negatives, blowing them completely out of proportion in the process. It is my hope that in the coming year I really foster a spirit of appreciation for all the lovely things that life brings.
So the point of this post is a very simple one. To say a warm heartfelt Thank You, to you dear reader, who has viewed, liked, commented and followed this blog. The truth is that when I started this I never really expected anyone to be reading, it was after all just something I started on a whim. So it has come as a wondrous surprise to have received so many likes/comments and find people engaging with the blog. I’ve also really enjoyed reading your blogs and really am starting to feel that I am part of a community. It’s amazing how creative everyone is and it’s inspiring to know that in our busy hectic lives we can make time for something imaginative. I hope next week to be back in fine fettle and ready for another whirlwind adventure. Moreover in the coming year, I’m going to jolly well do my best, to entertain quaint notions, visit charming spots, drink sublime whisky, and partake in all that is silly.
In the meantime I wish you all the happiest of holidays.
P.S. Check out some Muppet Goodness
Upon purchasing this fine beverage one could be forgiven for harbouring fears that one may have been accidentally inducted into the illuminati. After all a mysterious ‘All Seeing Eye’ does adorn the label. Thus let me assure you then dear reader that there is nothing occult about this bottle other than its rather splendid contents! One of the latest offerings from compass box, a terrific purveyor of blended scotch, this limited edition bottle is a whisky with a tale behind it. In 2015 the company got in trouble when it brazenly flouted the law with the release of a bottle called ‘This is not a luxury whisky’. The problem, the blackguards dared to print the precise contents of their blend, thus giving the consumer more than an inkling of whether it was worth the money or not. Alas, it turns out that in this instance UK and EU law strictly prohibit such actions, that heaven forefend might lead to an informed consumer. Enlightenment then is the company’s cheeky retort given liquid form. Thankfully it also happens to be stonkingly good stuff.
In Enlightenment we have what I would call a delightful dandy dram. There is a great deal going on and plenty of different exciting flavours happening yet there is somehow a delicate genteel quality to the whole experience. This whisky has an incredible nose. It is predominantly citrus, with lots of apple, some lemon peel, plenty of vanilla, and the subtlest hint of liquorice. There is a further beguiling quality here, as the citrus qualities simultaneously have a floral tone and at times the aroma reminds me of bergamot. The body is delightfully young and exuberant. The flavour gently bursts forth onto ones tongue both with an air of confidence and grace. I get a fabulous crisp Bramley apple flavour, zesty lemon sherbet that dances across the taste buds, loads of vanilla oak, and a dried apricot flavour to die for. To top it off there is also the faintest dash of smoke. Lastly we have a superb dry finish that brings the magical journey to an end, though a little too abruptly for my tastes. I absolutely adore Enlightenment it is a truly sublime genteel concoction and comes very close to perfection in my book. If you can still get a bottle at around the sixty pound mark, then I wholeheartedly recommend that you treat yourself this Christmas.
Christmas shopping for me, always conjures up images of slowly strolling around beautiful stores and thoughtfully picking out magical items for those that matter most. I haven’t a damn clue why it does this, as every time I’ve gone Christmas shopping it has proven a nightmare. A grueling marathon complete with barbarian hordes hell bent on turning me into the Grinch before the holiday season is out. This year however within the mire I came across the new Lego superstore in Leicester Square which proved a wondrous place that momentarily transformed me into a big kid.
I loved Lego as a kid. It is in many ways the ultimate toy, something you can use to build and play out any scenario. In fact my one grievance with Lego today is that most of the models connect to big brands or Lego TV shows, which to me is tantamount to robbing a child of their imagination’s sovereignty. It provides ready packaged ideas and characters where previously you were encouraged to invent your own. And is it me or am I going off on one instead of actually informing you about this fantastic store? (Quickly inserts distracting photo)
The new Lego superstore (the biggest in the world!) is darn right magnificent. Packed out the door with huge Lego models, including a Dragon and a Tube Carriage you can actually sit in. Not to mention a Mini Big Ben that’s pretty damn big and actually chimes. They also sell Lego kits, lots of them and most are incredible. But there’s more, they have talks about Lego with the wonderfully named ‘master builders’. There are tables where kids and opportunistic adults can play with Lego for free. To top it off they even have a crazy ass photo booth, which will turn your likeness into a Lego kit that you can actually build, a pity said booth costs a fortune. Nevertheless this was a really inventive and genuinely fun store. I left this particular Christmas shopping experience feeling rather jolly which was a first. I’ll definitely be back before this year is out.
London is filled to the brim with public parks and they may well be its greatest asset. In a chaotic city in which hustle and bustle are to be found in abundance, one finds that no matter where you are there is always a secret garden available to provide a much needed reprieve. The Kyoto garden is a particular favourite of mine, a tiny patch of tranquil Japan that can be found at the centre of Holland Park.
The last week has been blooming mental. In the middle of it I found myself experiencing crippling fear in the face of complete life overload. I was chained to the oar of my work, running on empty, as the slave drum beat out an incessant rhythm of drudgery. Occasionally I looked out to the wider world in search of hope, only to find constant and irritating reminders that the world is absolutely insane.
Suddenly remembering that I’m a wistful imaginative fellow with a penchant for the overly dramatic, it crossed my mind that I might be blowing everything out of proportion. Surely not I said to myself. Thankfully I gave it a second thought and quickly realized that all I needed was a break. Thus I hopped on the tube and was whisked away for a brief change of scene. In an instant I was experiencing a resplendent autumns day in a serene environment that came complete with dazzling fish and majestic peacocks.
A great deal calmer and just getting over the fact that life had once again shown me to be the bigger banana head. I made my first few walks around this small perfectly formed gem with my camera in hand. In no time at all I got myself into a full blown tourist frenzy taking photos of everything. The Kyoto garden has so many hidden perspectives to find and many of them are spellbinding in their beauty.
Many would criticize the modern day tendency to instantly grab a camera when beholding something wonderful. Such people undoubtedly have a point but I think they miss something as well. In my photo frenzy, it is true that I was in a mind-set that was both narrow in its focus and at a distance from its environment. Nevertheless there was something meditative about this intense search for an interesting perspective, the attempt to capture a moment and find something special and unrepeatable within it. In short the activity has a singular nature to it that in its own way was harmonizing.
Of course I eventually put my camera aside and spent a full hour just taking it all in. It was here that a different form of harmonizing magic took place. The kind where the very structure of an environment somehow starts to anchor your state of mind and with nothing impeding it a silent joy just creeps in. The Germans have a wonderful word waldeinsamkeit, which has no equivalent in English, but refers to a state of deep solitude in the woods where you nonetheless feel deeply connected to nature. In its own way, the Kyoto Garden gave me a brief glimmer of this. I returned to the great hustle and bustle of the city with renewed vigour.
I really hope I’ve inspired you to visit this beautiful park. It is best to go very early before it fills up with London’s very own Tibetan singing bowls, aka screaming babies in prams. Finally I wish to thank Marry at Still a Runner for inspiring this post, be sure to check out her article and blog here.
Life is all about the little things, those inexplicable experiences that somehow mean the world to you, it’s an odd one I’ll admit but at this time of year I truly appreciate the joy of explosives. As a child I just loved the idea of blowing things up, I haven’t got a clue why, though it could have something to do with Looney Toons. I am now officially a grown up but against all odds this childhood passion is undiminished and remains wholly intact. Give me some fireworks plus one functional lighter and I’m a guaranteed happy lunatic. Bonfire night begins each year in the same way with a trip to the local newsagents. Every year I buy an assortment of fireworks there and every year they throw in a ridiculous amount of freebies. I’m always most grateful for such kindness. The venue is a tradition too, for well over a decade now I have spent it outside of London with my Mum and a wonderful family who used to live locally. The family in question had three little kids when I first started going, but now we have a graduate, a university student, and a teenager. I must say their company is a hell of a lot of fun but thankfully each and every one of them is a tad more sensible than I am. I do not wish to dwell on the overly serious as alas it’s not my style but it has truly been an honour and a privilege to watch these incredible little people turn into awesome big people. The parents are pretty darn wonderful too.
I’m particularly gratified to be surrounded by such upstanding adults, given that safety was not and still isn’t my forte. Its mind boggling that anyone would trust me with fireworks. It’s positively ludicrous that anyone would conceive of giving me young charges to boot. The fact that no one under my supervision has been blown to kingdom come, comes only by the grace of sweet Fortuna. Previous wisdom on my part has included, packing a hamster cage full of rockets so as to launch more of them (nothing was inside I swear), several attempts to launch a rocket without a stick, and finally the trusty motto ‘if it don’t work throw it on the bonfire’. I don’t feel too bad however given that the father of this hearty brood, has on several occasions attempted to throw a lit rocket at the last second, the results to date have been mixed to say the least. This year I had a fantastic time as always and truly appreciated the fact that every year proves a most welcome dose of heartfelt fun.
To sum it up I had an absolute blast, pun wholly intended!!!