January Favourites

It’s a brand new year so I thought I would inject some new enthusiasm, positivity and happiness into the blog, it’s not all travel, travel, travel.

So here for this month are my FIVE JANUARY FAVOURITES!

My January Favourites - QuirkyLittlePlanet.com

1. Gingerbread popcorn

Anything that combines two of my favourite things HAS to be a winner! I love gingerbread and I actually think I might need to go to some sort of popcorn rehab or something. This Butterkist popcorn is coated with cinnamon and ginger flavour toffee, I had to stop myself from eating the whole bag in one sitting. It is limited edition, which is probably a good thing as I could quite easily get addicted to this stuff!

2. Barry M Twinkle Twinkle nail polish

I’ve developed a little obsession with the colour rose gold and I’ve been hunting around for a cruelty-free rose gold nail polish that is affordable. I found this beauty being sold exclusively in Superdrug and was not disappointed! It’s a lovely colour, my photo and my strangely unphotogenic hands really don’t do it justice. Just one thing though, much like the popcorn it is limited edition so go get it quick!

Barry M Twinkle Twinkle Limited Edition rose gold colour cruelty free nail polish

3. Safari animal gloves

If my unphotogenic hands prove too much for you, then good news! I can hide them with these quirky gloves. I went into Sainsburys for some travel currency and ended up leaving with a tub of ice cream and these ridiculous gloves. They have safari animals on the fingertips! I promise you they are adult gloves, but I literally can’t do anything in them because they are that ridiculous. However, they are pretty good for putting on impromptu puppet shows!

Safari animal gloves

4. American sitcoms

As much as I enjoy gripping shows like The Walking Dead and fascinating programmes such as Planet Earth II, I will always find something soothing in watching a sitcom. Friends, to me, was the television equivalent of a large mug of tea and a snuggly duvet, and now The Big Bang Theory has filled that void. Just recently, Melissa & Joey have been there to nurse me through a hangover, while New Girl reminds me that it’s ok that I don’t have my shit together. I’ve also recently got into watching The Goldbergs and I think I’m starting to turn into the mom… except my snuggle monster is my cat 🙂

5. Yoga

One of my Christmas gifts was a yoga mat. I wanted one because I feel like it shows commitment. I have been going to a Wednesday evening yoga class, I did start going last year (and using one of the weird smelling mats they have at the gym) but with my own mat I can then practise a little at home too. I’m well aware of the benefits of yoga and I think it will be good for me, both in body and mind. Don’t worry though, you won’t see any instagram shots of me doing the tree pose on the beach just yet. Teehee!

How was your January? What helped you through the January blues? Leave me a little comment below or tweet me @quirkylilplanet

Alphabet Dating - H is for Halloween

Alphabet Dating – H is for Halloween

OBVIOUSLY if your letter ‘H’ date for Alphabet Dating ends up being in October then you HAVE to make it H for Halloween, am I right?

Everyone seems to have gone super crazy for Halloween this year and I think the UK are slowly catching up with America in our festivities. So anyway, this year hubby and I chose to go to one of those fright night things where you basically pay for people to scare you.

Kent Life were hosting their Halloween Spooktacular for the first time this year so we decided to go check it out. Kent Life is normally a family friendly fun day out with farm animals, it describes itself as “Kent’s Rural Heritage Experience”, however the Halloween nights were strictly for over 16s only. The theme “Kent-aminated” (contaminated, gettit?) was the zombie apocalypse. We love The Walking Dead so we were up for this. Kinda… eek!

Anyway, when we arrived we were “checked in” as survivors of the apocalypse and given overalls to wear. We were then taken with around 12 other paying guests to a tent (which was a circus tent or something during the day) but was now the hospital tent during the apocalypse. I knew that those hospital trolleys weren’t all that they seemed and of course, there was a zombie underneath one of those sheets!

We were all freaked out and laughing as we ran out of the tent and onto a train. Sadly our guide was dragged away before she could get on the train and met her fate at the jaws of the undead. The train was a cutesy land train by day, but vital zombie protection by night and sure enough, there they were banging on the windows as we passed.

A new guide met us at the other end and took us past the fields of goats (nothing to do with the evening, those goats live there) where we saw a zombie munching on a dead (fake) sheep. We then ran into the church, because I forgot to mention that you can actually get married at Kent Life.

The best bit though was as we were waiting in the church, anticipating what might happen next as the zombies banged on all the windows around us, a zombie girl appeared behind us out of nowhere and then all 14 of us screamed and ran towards the exit.

We then ran up a hill with zombies following us, headed towards the safe zone which turned out to be a bar where we had a drink that was included in our ticket prices.

The whole experience only lasted half an hour which I don’t think was really long enough. We also felt that they could have had more zombie actors and perhaps added something like us smearing fake blood on our overalls and then walking through a field of zombies, like in The Walking Dead. We were a bit confused about the overalls to be honest. All in all I found the anticipation of not knowing what was going to happen far scarier than the experience itself but I was grateful that the team asked for our feedback at the end.

A couple of years ago we did something similar at Fort Amherst (the place we went to on our E date) which had alot more to it and was much scarier… perhaps a little too scary – clown with chainsaw I am talking about you! So our expectations for Kent-aminated were already high before we had even got there. Having said that, Fort Amherst had the edge before they’d even done anything given that their venue is a legit haunted 300 year old fort.

Kent Life did well for a first try and although it didn’t quite meet my expectations (am I secretly relieved? maybe!) I would be interested to see what they plan for future Halloweens!

P.S. Excuse the lack of pictures, we had to switch our phones off so we didn’t interfere with the radio signals 😉

zombie-apocalypse

Alphabet Dating - F is for Friends Fest

Alphabet Dating – F is for Friends Fest

aka The One where we went to Friends Fest

OH. MY. GOOOOD!

Could I BE any more excited?!

Yup that’s right, we only went and got much coveted tickets for Comedy Central’s Friends Fest. Touted as “the ultimate celebration of the world’s greatest tv show”, Comedy Central UK are embarking on a six week tour bringing all things Friends to a selection of venues across the UK. We managed to bag ourselves tickets to one of the first dates which was at Haggerston Park in Hoxton, London.

When you book tickets you have to pick a time slot for your visit to Monica’s apartment and as we already had tickets to see Aladdin the musical that afternoon (a belated birthday present for me!) we decided to go as early as possible and opted for the 9.30am slot, which was shortly after the event opened. It was actually a good thing we tagged Friends Fest on to our already planned London visit as we were only there for around two hours.

The basic set up of the festival is that you get to see some of the sets and props (quite possibly replicas) and have your picture taken with them. There was the sofa and umbrellas from the opening credits, Monica’s apartment, some items from Joey and Chandler’s apartment (La-Z-Boys, foosball and that canoe from when all their furniture got stolen – episode ‘The One with the Cat’).

Friends Fest - Haggerston Park, London

Monica's apartment at Friends Fest in Hoxton

Montage of Monica's apartment at Friends Fest

Joey and Chandler's apartment at Friends Fest

Comedy Central's Friends Fest

The rest of the sets at the event didn’t require a time slot and there were always staff on hand to take pictures of you. Sadly, there was no opportunity to grab a coffee in Central Perk – every single prop was stuck down! But you could get a picture on the famous sofa and also do your best Phoebe impression by singing ‘Smelly Cat’.

And yes I did sing ‘Smelly Cat’.

And no you can’t see the video.

Friends Fest - on the sofa at Central Perk

Central Perk montage - our F for Friends date #AlphabetDating

There were some Friends themed eateries such as the Moondance diner that Monica worked at (that was really more of a burger van than a cool American diner) and also a crepe wagon called Mockolate but we didn’t eat at any of them. I might have had a cocktail at the Chick & Duck bar but it was probably too early for booze!

The other bits that were there (besides a small gift shop) was Phoebe’s famous yellow taxi, a Vegas type set with props you could pose with such as the Roman gear that Joey wore and bridal clothing, plus a silent disco where you could recreate Ross and Monica’s “routine” if you so wished.

Posing with props at Friends Fest in Hoxton, London

The chill out area consisted of deckchairs and a stage with a screen showing some of the funniest clips of Friends and as the weather was good, we sat and chilled for a bit. A friend of mine who had gone the day before us said that while she was there, they had some people entertaining on stage too.

The stage at Friends Fest

All in all we had an enjoyable morning and I absolutely love the idea of a festival based on a tv show, however I was expecting a bit more… more props, more sets, perhaps some lookalikes? Maybe I had been slightly spoilt by my visit to the Warner Bros Studios in Los Angeles (which I will write about as it was AWESOME!) but I was expecting to be at Haggerston Park a little longer than we were and not so rushed through Monica’s apartment. Still, I would say that if you are a Friends fanatic then Friends Fest is a must!

So what I want to know is, who is your favourite character and what is your favourite episode? I’ve always liked Phoebe as she reminds me of me and I think my favourite episode is ‘The One where the Stripper cries’. Leave me a little comment below. 

Right now I fancy sipping on a giant cup of coffee and watching my Friends box sets so, see ya pals!

Alphabet dating - E is for Escape Plan. Can you escape the room in less than an hour?

Alphabet Dating – E is for Escape Plan

Escape Plan

I was mega excited about our ‘E’ date because I had a brilliant brainwave to do one of those Escape the Room type thingies. They seem to be popping up all over the place at the moment! I’ve seen it on The Big Bang Theory and 2 Broke Girls but ours was nowhere near as fancy as those ones. It was situated in a haunted 300 year old fort though, so there’s that.

Escape Plan at Fort Amherst in Kent, UK
Part of the fort we ‘escaped’ from

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Escape Plan is basically where you are locked in a room for an hour and have to solve puzzles in order to escape the room. Ours was a murder mystery theme where we were told we needed to figure out the name of the killer and then we had to find the key to the door to get out. The room held a maximum of 8 people and as we hadn’t booked the room out to ourselves, our group of 4 was teamed with another group of 4 who had booked the same time as us. They were a nice enough bunch of people but to be honest, 8 people was too many!

The room was very basic with just a chalk outline of a body on the floor, a few odds and ends scattered about the room and then a couple of padlocked boxes. We had to figure out the codes, based on clues in the room, in order to get into the boxes. Unfortunately photography is not permitted so I have nothing to show you how it looked inside and I don’t want to tell you too much detail as I think it would spoil it.

The door to the room which we needed to escape from
The door to the room which we needed to escape from

So… did we get out in time? YES! We got out of the room with literally a minute or two left on the clock. In fairness, the guy running Escape Plan did pop in halfway through and gave us a few hints which I don’t think we would have got without him (or more time) but we did it!

I was really proud of myself for getting a bit of a cryptic clue and unlocking one of the padlocks that no one else really figured out and I would definitely like to try some other versions of this game some time!

Have you ever been to Escape Plan or something similar? What would you do for an E date? Stay tuned for F but in the mean time, hit me up with any ideas for G!

Escape Plan - An alphabet dating idea for E

12 things I have learnt about British summers

It’s true what they say, us Brits are OBSESSED with the weather. So while I’ve been enjoying a slice of British summertime I got to thinking of all the things I have learnt about British summers.

1. Make the most of every sunny day
…because you never know how long it’s going to last!

2. Spontaneous barbecues are a thing
Planned barbecues will inevitably summon the grey clouds, so spontaneity is the key here. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve hot-footed it to my local Morrisons for burgers and corn on the cob as soon as the sun gets his hat on.

Camping in England

3. Spontaneous anything, really
Beach, park, camping – go, go, GO! Of course, the rest of the country will most likely be there with you crowding up the place, but that’s a small price to pay for some vitamin D.

4. Make full use of all barbecue opportunities
Yes dessert could be toasted marshmallows but how about alcoholic bananas? Seriously, slice the banana in half down the middle, soak it in vodka or rum, sprinkle with brown sugar, wrap it in foil, bung it on the barbie! That’s my dad’s recipe. Get creative, doesn’t all have to be burgers and sausages.

Toasting marshmallows over a barbecue
Toasting marshmallows 🙂

5. Summer clothes are cute
Pretty dresses, cute skirts – makes a pleasant change from living in jeans and jumpers! Plus I always get told I look nice when I’m wearing my summer wardrobe. A girl loves a compliment, amiright?!

6. Pimm’s and pub lunches are necessary
Ooh I love a Pimm’s with bits of citrus fruit, mint, cucumber and strawberries floating in it, it’s the ultimate summer drink. Team it with a ploughman’s lunch while sitting in a pub garden and you’re onto a winner!

Anyone for Pimm's?
Anyone for Pimm’s?

7. Hay fever is why we can’t have nice things 
We can’t enjoy anything can we? When the winter cold season is over, the sneezing isn’t and it brings along its irritating cousins – itchy nose, throat and eyes.

8. Approximately 76% of all picnics will be spoiled by wasps or unexpected rain
Ok I made that stat up but it’s probably true.

Hot and bothered cat tries to chill in some shade
Hot and bothered!

9. Sleeping is difficult when it’s hot
Alright so it only happens about one night a year, probably mid-July, but that one night (ok maybe two nights) when it’s too hot with the bedroom windows closed but too noisy/bug infested to leave them open is tough!

10. Air conditioning is a blessing and a curse
So our houses here in Blighty don’t come equipped with air con as we rarely have the need for it. However, most workplaces these days have it, which is great when it’s a glorious 25 degrees outside and you’ve just arrived feeling a bit hot and bothered. Not so great an hour in and you’re sat there dressed for the outside when it’s about -5 in the office and your goosebumps have goosebumps!

Hands forming a heart shape at sunset

11. Nothing beats a cold shandy on a warm day
I don’t even really like beer/lager/whatever – it all tastes the same to me! But top it up with some lemonade and you have the second best summer refreshment right there (after Pimm’s of course).

12. We Brits will always moan about the weather
Everyone: “It’s too cold/rainy/grey, typical crappy British weather!”
cue day 1 of hot weather and sunshine
Everyone: “Yay! Summer’s finally here!”
cue day 4 of hot weather and sunshine
Everyone: “It’s too hot”

View from the London Eye on a dreary day in June
View from the London Eye on a dreary day in June

So come on tell me, what have you learnt about British summers? Or summers abroad? Leave me a comment below!