Alphabet Dating: L is for Levison Wood

Alphabet Dating – L is for Levison Wood

An evening with Levison Wood

ABCDEFGHIJL… something’s missing?!

Our ‘K’ date should have occurred in February but we went to Costa Rica (which unfortunately begins with a ‘C’ so doesn’t count – I’m not gonna start pulling that Kardashian shit on you) and then March happened along with our ‘L’ date sooooo….. here it is – L is for Levison Wood!

We went to see Mr Wood on his UK tour, giving talks about his various exciting escapades. For those who don’t know who Levison Wood is, he is a British Explorer famous for walking everywhere. But when I say walking, don’t be expecting some gentle National Trust type stroll through the English countryside, oh no, his first television show called Walking the Nile showed him walking the length of the Nile from Rwanda to Egypt, through some quite harsh and dangerous climates.

An evening with Levison Wood

Levison’s second television adventure Walking the Himalayas saw him walking the length of the world’s highest mountain range. While his ‘thing’ is walking everywhere, there was one point on his journey where due to some political unrest of some sort in Nepal, he and some people who were accompanying him on that particular part of the journey ended up having to take a short taxi ride to a nearby village. Ironically, the one time Levison decides to get into a vehicle, it shoots over a cliff and hurtles 150m down a mountain, nearly killing everyone in the car.

Thankfully no one died, although this isn’t the first time tragedy has struck one of Levison’s adventures. During Walking the Nile, he was accompanied at one point of the journey by some journalists. Tragically, an American journalist named Matthew Power died from heatstroke while accompanying Levison in a remote part of Uganda. Reminding us just how dangerous these expeditions can be.

Levison Wood’s most recent adventure saw him Walking the Americas. Starting in Mexico where he met his friend, a Mexican fashion photographer named Alberto, who walked the entire journey with him. And ending triumphantly in Colombia. Me, hubby and my two work friends who also love Lev actually got to meet Alberto on the night. He was incredibly funny and charismatic. I asked him where his favourite place was and he said Nicaragua but Costa Rica was his second favourite. He told me that Nicaragua was alot cheaper than Costa Rica too!

me: * adds Nicaragua to the ever-growing bucket list *

Meeting Alberto from Walking the Americas

We didn’t get to meet Levison himself but we enjoyed listening to him tell his stories, from backpacking along the Silk Road in his youth, to the time he lost his wallet at a theme park and it was returned by post to him from someone in the Army. He wrote back to thank them and then to ask advice on how to get into the army. Because that was how he was going to fulfil his childhood ambition to become an Explorer!

He inspired me by saying that you should take opportunities when you can, because even unpaid jobs can lead to bigger things. For him, this was an unpaid job he took after leaving the army where he delivered a couple of ambulances from London to Malawi for a charity project, which, to cut a long story short, ended up with him landing his first television gig!

At the end of the talk there was a little Q&A session which if you’re curious – his scariest moment was the car crash in Nepal. He was also pretty scared of a situation involving walking into a field where there were landmines in Africa. He wouldn’t tell us where his next adventure was but I know wherever it is, he is there right now as I am writing this. And there is another expedition in the planning for next year which will see Alberto accompany him again. As for Alberto, the thing he missed the most about his everyday life while he was walking the Americas was in actual fact his toilet!!!

See, I told you he was funny 🙂

Now hubby and I are playing a guessing game of where we think Lev might travel to next but I guess we will just have to wait and see!

Walking the... Nile, Himalayas, Americas - what's next?

Alphabet Dating - G Date Ideas

Alphabet Dating – G is for Gigs and Geocaching

So it wasn’t only this blog that took a bit of a back burner over the last month or so, but we stretched our imaginations a bit when it came to Alphabet Dating and the letter ‘G’.

Originally we had considered Go Karting or Go Ape. Not sure what happened with the Go Karting idea but the Go Ape ended up being a girl’s weekend away at Centre Parcs for me where I tackled their Aerial Adventure among other things. I’m adventurous in the ‘jetsetting and exploring’ kinda way, not so much ‘hauling my ass up a tree and trying not to lose my footing’ kinda way.

Zipline at the end of the aerial adventure at Elveden Centre Parcs
I’m the grey dot on the zipline

Of course, Geocaching makes for a perfectly good ‘G’ date and we have done plenty of that over the summer. We’ve even hidden our first cache! If you’re interested in the idea of the world’s largest treasure hunt, then check out my beginners guide to geocaching.

A perfect example of a Geocache

Another suggestion for a ‘G’ date would be to go to a gig. Fortunately for us, we won tickets to see Robbie Williams at the Apple Music Festival which we now deem to be our ‘G’ date. I’ve always quite liked Robbie but never enough to deal with the stresses of buying tickets. I HATE buying concert tickets! You know the whole, will I get a good view? how much?! What’s this extortionate booking fee all about?!

Apple Music Festival 2016 - The Roundhouse in Camden, London

Anyway, the Apple Music Festival took place at The Roundhouse in Camden over a course of several nights (10 or 12 I can’t remember). Each of their selected artists would be performing for one night only. If I’m honest, I had wanted Britney tickets but no such luck. Still Robbie put on an awesome show and I will never forget singing along to ‘Strong’ at the top of my lungs! Robbie even brought his dad out on stage and they did a duet which was cute.  Predictably he opened with ‘Let me entertain you’ and closed with an encore of ‘Angels’ followed by a new track he was promoting, but it all made perfect sense. Oh and incase you were wondering, he didn’t strip to ‘Rock DJ’ but he did show us his tiger pants! Grr!

Robbie Williams gig at The Roundhouse in Camden, London

I gotta say, The Roundhouse was a pretty good venue too. Although it did get quite squashy and there were some annoying people watching the entire experience through their phone screens (see my earlier rant about mobile phones). We did get a pretty good view of The Entertainer himself so all in all a good night and a grrreat ‘G’ date!

We’ve picked up the slack a bit with ‘H’ and ‘I’ so stay tuned folks!

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

Sunlounger 2 – Book Review

Although I don’t read as much as I used to, I usually like to find a bit of time to chill out with a good book while on holiday. My latest read was Sunlounger 2 – a collection of short stories “from some of the hottest names in women’s fiction”. As the title suggests, the book features many sun-drenched, wanderlust-inducing stories ideal for getting lost in whilst lounging on a beach.

Sunlounger 2 - book review
Background via unsplash

While adventure and romance are the main themes of this book, I did find that it started to become quite predictable. The following plotline could sum up half of the stories in the book: heartbroken girl travels overseas to get over her ex, girl meets sexy foreign stranger, stranger woos girl with either food or by becoming her personal tour guide, girl and sexy stranger fall in love and live happily ever after. So I would say this book is best enjoyed in small chunks rather than devouring it in a couple of days.

That said, there were a couple of stories I found quite creepy and disturbing, kind of the antithesis of a happy summer tale. And a couple of the stories were also heartbreaking and sad but still beautifully written.

Not every tale was to my taste and there were a few that I found a bit rushed or pointless. Of course this is all subjective but I have decided to highlight a few of the more memorable stories in my very own…

* drumroll *

SUNLOUNGER AWARDS!

Funniest Story: Summer Secrets and Surprises By Molly Hopkins (Destination:Corfu)
– I genuinely LOL’ed on my sunlounger.

Biggest Tearjerker: Dreams of Pushkar By Alexandra Potter (Destination: India)
– Although The First Last Dive By Ruth Saberton comes a close second.

Most Inspiring: A Blood Lily from Moses By Roisin Meaney (Destination: Africa)
– Quitting my job and moving to Africa to live with the giraffes now ‘kay bye!

My Heart Wants More: How to have your Best Summer Ever! By Lisa Dickenson (Destination: Australia)
– I could be besties with the main characters in this one, reminded me of being a teenager.

The Ideal Short Story: The Party Boat By Jo Carnegie (Destination: Croatia)
– Perfect length, felt complete.

Most Unique: We Found Love By Ilana Fox (Destination: The Future)
– Set between 2014 London and 2075 Havana. Really thought provoking especially as I live just outside London and was reading this while in Cuba.

My Verdict
Sunlounger 2 is great if you wish to discover more authors so I will be checking out some new books for my kindle in the near future!


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Alphabet Dating - B is for Bridges and Beckett (and Bowie and Beehive and Burgers!)

Alphabet Dating – B is for Bridges and Beckett

Ok so we cheated slightly with this one in that we already had 2 events booked that would fit in with our ‘B’ date, but y’know, April was quite a busy and expensive month anyway so worked out quite well.

The o2 Academy in Brixton, London. Leon Bridges is playing.

First up was a Leon Bridges gig which just so happened to be in Brixton at The o2 Academy. We arrived early and decided to go for a drink beforehand. And whaddyaknow the local Wetherspoons is called The Beehive – couldn’t have worked out better if we had planned it! The Beehive was buzzing (LOL sorry!) so with no tables available, we had one quick drink and departed.

A pub called The Beehive. Perfect place for a drink on the letter 'B' of Alphabet Dating. Entirely accidental.

Leon Bridges and his support act, Andra Day, were both fantastic! Such perfect voices. Andra’s vocals reminded me alot of Amy Winehouse and Leon was the perfect soulful gentleman.

I didn’t know much about Bridges before we went to his gig but hubby has his album which we played alot in the car on our New Zealand road trip – so the music brings back good memories.

Soul singer Leon Bridges performing at The o2 Academy in Brixton

After the concert, we had the munchies so grabbed ourselves a Subway sandwich each, where I found outside painted onto a wall, this beautiful tribute to David Bowie.

Tribute to David Bowie. Brixton, London.

Beehive, Bridges and Bowie – 3 B’s and it was only the first half of our alphabet date.

Our second ‘B’ date occurred 2 weeks later when we went to see comedian Rob Beckett on stage. There were no other ‘B’ coincidences this time around and photography wasn’t permitted so I can only really show you this flyer.

Rob Beckett Tour Flyer

The show was funny but I didn’t do my cry-laughter thing until right near the end when he told his “Ed Nohead” joke (I won’t spoil it).

I appreciate that Bridges and Beckett are quite tricky ‘B’ date options if you’re reading this for your own ‘B’ date inspiration, so I do have one more…

Burgers. We went to our nearest branch of Gourmet Burger Kitchen because I was missing those delicious New Zealand style burgers and a refreshing can of L&P, and hubby had never even been to a GBK before so I had to take him. Oh my, L&P you are definitely in my top 5 things I miss about New Zealand!

What would you do for a ‘B’ date? If you missed  it, you can find our ‘A’ date here. Oh and stay tuned for ‘C’ – I promise it’s a good one!