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

A beginners guide to Geocaching

Now we’re finally seeing the signs of summer here in England, it’s great to get out and about in the sunshine. So put down the Pokemon Go and listen up, kids – I’ve got a real treasure hunt for you… Geocaching!

A beginners guide to geocaching

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a “real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS enabled devices”.

What you need

  • A mobile phone with Geocaching app. There is a free version which is quite limited and a paid for subscription which, although pricey is alot more accurate and shows alot more caches available.
  • A pen for writing in log books
  • Trinkets and toys for swapping (optional)
  • Gloves – i.e. garden gloves for if you need to put your hand into a bush or something (optional)
  • A good pair of eyes!

a beginners guide to geocaching

How to play

  1. Download the app and register as a player. The username you assign yourself will be what you sign in the log books that you find.
  2. Switch on your GPS and use the app to discover just how many geocaches are near you.
  3. Once you’ve chosen a cache to find, follow the compass on the app to head to the location. Read the clues as to what you are looking for and get searching!
  4. Once you locate the cache, sign your username and the date in the log book. If you take any of the “treasure” inside the cache, be sure to replace it with something of equal or greater value.
  5. Put the cache back where you found it and don’t forget to mark on your app that you found it. Also leave a little comment for the person who created the cache, as well as future geocachers, to let them know what you thought of it.

Signing the log book in a geocache

Terminology

Cache – A cache can be as big as a lunchbox or as small as a USB stick. A cache is the “treasure chest” so to speak.
Log Book – Usually a piece of paper rather than a book. Sign this when you locate a cache.
Muggle – Like the term from Harry Potter, muggle refers to non-geocachers. When geocaching, try not to reveal a cache to a muggle. Keep it secret – it’s more fun!
Swag – Trade items left in caches. Most are cheap plastic toys and tat but some might be trackables. Most caches are too small for swag anyway.
Trackables – Also known as Travel Bugs, these are specially purchased trackable tags which are tracked online at geocaching.com. If you find one, the idea is to move it on to another cache so it can travel around.
DNF – Did Not Find. If you see this a few times on the app for a particular cache, chances are the cache has been tampered with unbeknownst to the cache creator.
FTF – First To Find. Pretty obvious – written by the first person to find the cache.
TFTC – Thanks For The Cache.

Placing a trackable into a geocache

Me and my husband have taken up geocaching as a quirky summer hobby. We started last year as a fun way to explore the local area and have just started to do it again this year now the weather is warm again.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of trackable travel bugs when the Geocaching.com founder Jeremy Irish released 7 deadly ducks (based on the 7 deadly sins) into the wild. In honour of the 15th anniversary, the 7 deadly ducks have been reincarnated in a race lasting from 20 July to 20 August (International Geocaching Day) in a competition to see how far these trackable tags travel. So hubby bought the ‘greed’ duck and we have now released him out into the geocaching wilds. I will keep you posted on his progress – wish us luck!

Greed - 7 deadly ducks - geocaching race

Have you taken part in The World’s Largest Treasure Hunt? or are you a Geocaching Muggle? Drop me a line below…

Ripley’s Believe it or not London

Ripley's Believe it or not London
Vampire woman and Lizard man

If you’re in London and looking for something weird and wonderful to do then look no further than Ripley’s Believe it or not at Piccadilly Circus.

Ripley’s is home to over 700 artefacts, many of which were collected by Robert Ripley himself who was an explorer, collector, presenter and cartoonist! Ripley travelled to 201 countries collecting exotic treasures – everything from tribal masks to shrunken heads – all on display right here!

Portrait of Robert Ripley made from candy at Ripley's Believe it or not London
Portrait of Robert Ripley made from candy

There are also many modern exhibits such as a portrait of Kate Middleton created from lipstick kisses on canvas, Michelle Obama from bottlecaps and a portrait of Amy Winehouse produced from broken CDs which actually looks alot like my A level art project (just the concept, that is, Amy wasn’t famous back then).

Amy Winehouse - A Shattered Life by Victor Ramos. Portrait of Amy Winehouse created from CDs on display at Ripleys London.

You can also find a recreation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper painted onto a grain of rice, images created on burnt pieces of toast and there’s even a painting done by a horse – it doesn’t get much more random!

As well as quirky art, there are also animal oddities such as a two-headed calf. Plus there’s a chunk of the Berlin wall and the world’s oldest beer, brewed from 5000 year old hops found in an ancient Egyptian tomb!

The World's Oldest Beer - brewed from 5000 year old hops found in an Ancient Egyptian tomb!

There are wax figures of astonishing people like Johnny Eck – a talented man whose torso ended just below the waist, Earl Hughes – the heaviest recorded man in history and Robert Wadlow – the tallest human being ever.

Figure of Ribert Wadlow - tallest man ever. Ripley's Believe it or not London.

You can also find a container filled with ice cold water which you can dip your hand into to experience the temperature of the water when the Titanic sank, which I mentioned in my Wonderworks Orlando post. Another thing similar to Wonderworks is The Black Hole, which is basically a tunnel you walk through but while the bridge is still, the surroundings spin making you feel all kinds of dizzy and sick.

Ripley's Believe it or not London

There’s something for everyone at Ripley’s, one of the coolest things in the culture collection is the Eagle Coffin. In Ghana, funerals are colourful celebrations of the deceased person’s life and coffins are custom designed to represent a person’s hobbies, job or even status. Eagle coffins are reserved for the most honoured chiefs.

Eagle coffin from Ghana - on display at Ripley's in London.

There are many many other weird and wonderful things to see here which I haven’t mentioned but I will say, make sure you visit the Mirror Maze and the Impossible LaseRace at the end!

Mirror Maze at Ripley's London
Mirror Maze selfie!

Also, before you go, check out some different ticket websites online as there are discounts to be had!

If you liked this post then I guarantee you will want to know about Wonderworks Orlando and Puzzling World Wanaka.

Inamo London – the future of restaurants

Inamo is an Asian fusion restaurant situated in Soho, London. We went there for my birthday because –

a) I love Japanese food

and

b) They have an interactive ordering system – this is the future, people!

It might not be a new thing, but I certainly haven’t seen it anywhere before. There are no printed menus at Inamo, instead it is all projected onto your table and you can place your order digitally. You can also keep tabs of exactly how much you have spent, which is particularly handy if you are dining in a large group, rather than dealing with the whole messy splitting the bill situation. The only annoying thing about the interactive function was that I kept accidentally adding things to my order that I didn’t want, but it was easy enough to remove them again before ‘sending’ our order.

Cocktail and beer on the interactive tables at Japanese/Korean restaurant, Inamo in Soho, London

The other awesome thing about the interactive tables is that you can change the tablecloth, so to speak, by choosing different funky patterned backgrounds AND you can play games on your table – hubby and I had a couple of games of Battleships and Ping. Good fun while you wait for your food!

Funky patterns as digital tablecloths - the future of restaurants at Inamo Soho
Funky digital tablecloths

To begin, my husband ordered a Japanese beer while I decided to try one of the cocktails. I ordered the Ringoberi Mojito – rum and apple juice muddled with mint, sugar and blackberries. Yum!

The food at Inamo is kind of like Asian tapas, in that they bring it to you when it is ready, rather than the whole starters followed by mains deal. We decided to order the weekday set lunch menu of 2 courses for £10 and then share them so we get to try different things, as well as some tempura prawns from the normal menu because I discovered in Japan that I only really like prawns when they’re in a Japanese tempura!

We went for the rainbow maki (beetroot, pepper and cucumber sushi), which was alot smaller than sushi I’ve had elsewhere, but oh so beautifully presented!

Rainbow maki and a game of Battleships. Interactive dining at Inamo in London
Rainbow maki over a game of Battleships

We also ordered the Korean chicken wings which had a bit of a kick to them and were quite messy. If you’re going to Inamo on a first date or for a business meeting, do NOT order the chicken wings, there is no way to eat them in an attractive or professional manner.

The chicken wings were brought out alongside the tempura prawns, kind of as a second course after the maki. The tempura prawns were delicious and presented in a little wooden box with a side of Thai mango relish.

Tempura prawns and Korean chicken wings - Inamo Soho, London - an Asian fusion restaurant with a twist!

For our ‘mains’ (for lack of a better word), we both chose the teriyaki salmon which came with rice. The salmon was nice but I didn’t think it was that special, I think I was expecting more flavour. The funny thing was, when the waiter brought over our dishes he handed us one salmon and one curry, apologising that the kitchen had made an error, the curry was on the house and our other salmon was on its way. I think I actually enjoyed the curry more than the salmon! I don’t know what was in the curry as we couldn’t find it on the menu but we got lucky there!

Teriyaki salmon at Inamo in London
Teriyaki salmon
Curry from Inamo in London - Asian fusion restaurant
Our free curry!

Even though the dishes appeared to be small, we were absolutely stuffed afterwards so didn’t get to sample any of the restaurant’s dessert menu which sounded quite interesting – Baked Alasparkla in particular – baked alaska with a sparkle, hello!

Inamo Soho, also has a sister restaurant in Covent Garden, but both restaurants can get quite busy so it’s best to book in advance. However, we didn’t find it too busy visiting on a Friday lunchtime.

Inamo London - Asian fusion restaurant in Soho

Good food, good service but the winner was the futuristic and funky tables which I reckon will be everywhere before you know it!

If you liked this post you might enjoy my others about food, London or Japan.

My birthday weekend

Hello April, so far you’ve been fabulous.

I’ve had a fun 3 day weekend, kicking off with my birthday on Friday when I received lots of lovely presents, including that amazing Alice in Wonderland pop-up book I raved about when I went to the exhibition at the British Library (I have the best husband!). I did take some photos of it but they just don’t do it justice so I will try again another time.

Another really cool gift I got (because I am a massive nerd) was this Pan Am pilot wings pin. I love vintage travel and I enjoyed the Pan Am tv series, just gotta work out what I’m gonna wear this beauty on!

Pan Am Junior Clipper Pilot Wings

Then our day out in London was filled with some of my favourite things, namely Japanese, weird and cake.

Japanese food at Inamo Soho – an Asian fusion restaurant with cool interactive tables.

Cocktail and beer on the interactive tables at Japanese/Korean restaurant, Inamo in Soho, London

A world of weird and wonderful at Ripley’s Believe it or not at Piccadilly Circus.

Giant rocking chair at Ripleys Believe it or not in London

Ending the day with some tea and cake at Crumbs & Doilies cake shop in Soho. I chose a Peanut Butter and Chocolate cupcake with mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on top (LOVE Reese’s!). My husband opted for a slice of the Raspberry Bomb cake which was so huge that I had to help him eat it! Normally it’s the other way around!

Peanut butter cupcake from Crumbs and Doilies in Soho, London

Raspberry Bomb cake from Crumbs and Doilies in London
My hubby had a slice of this – not this actual chunk!

Saturday then treated us with even more cake when we took our mums out for a belated mother’s day gift – afternoon tea at Chilston Park Hotel in Kent.

Afternoon tea cake selection at Chilston Park Hotel in Kent, England

In the evening we played a game of Catopoly – my most random and quirky birthday present. It’s basically Monopoly for crazy cat ladies. I’m pleased to say that I thrashed my husband in what shall henceforth be known as ‘The Revenge of Ragdoll’ BAHAHA!

FYI – you know you’re old when your Saturday is spent having afternoon tea and playing board games rather than partying until 3am.

Catopoly - a monopoly style board game for Crazy Cat Ladies

Sunday has been all about cats and coffee. I did my volunteering at the Cats Protection in the morning and then in the afternoon, hubby and I popped out for a free Starbucks, discussed our possible 2016 travel plans and I bought myself a new face cream because I’m thinking now is probably about time I develop some sort of skin care regime. I think I will, but probably won’t.

Stay tuned for some more in depth posts!

How was your weekend?