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?

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 - 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!

Melbourne for the Aussie soap nut: part 2 – Neighbours Tour

Neighbours Tour

If you Neighbours aficionados missed part 1 you can find it here but if you’ve been waiting with baited breath for part 2 (unlikely, but I can dream) then here it is!

No Neighbours nut would consider visiting Melbourne without a trip to the holy Mecca of Australian soaps – Ramsay Street, or as it is known in real life – Pin Oak Court. You can of course travel there yourself but it wouldn’t be the same as joining the official tour.

On the morning of our tour we found ourselves legging it across the city because the tram we were waiting to catch didn’t show up (yeah TRAMS AGAIN). Anyway we made it to our meeting point (the Official Neighbours Centre) in good time, for our pick up on the Neighbours bus.

The official tour bus of the Ramsay Street Neighbours Tour in Melbourne.

Our tour guide had us singing the show’s theme tune and kept us entertained with trivia as we travelled around on the tour. She wouldn’t tell us much in the way of soap secrets unfortunately but you might find that the cast member you meet later on will dish the dirt quite freely!

Our first stop was Erinsborough High School. We couldn’t go in but we could have our photo taken outside next to the sign with the school badge on it.

Next up – Ramsay Street! We weren’t lucky enough to see them filming but we were able to just wander around the street and take photographs of the houses – as long as we didn’t venture up the driveways and cause too much disturbance as people live in those houses! One of the biggest surprises about the street is how much smaller it is in real life than it appears on tv.

Ramsay Street - one of the houses on the Neighbours Tour

After some time on the street, we headed off down to Grease Monkeys Diner (which has a load of random dusty items in the windows and looks more like a closed up charity shop than a hip burger bar). And across the road is the garage, which again looks alot bigger on the television. It was here that we also saw the famous bus stop that the characters always exit the show at when leaving by bus (usually when they run away to Sydney). Outside the garage we had our star meeting with the actor who played Declan Napier (James Sorensen) who happily posed for photos with us and answered lots of cheeky questions we had that the guide wouldn’t answer (such as who was about to die in the current storyline).

Grease Monkeys Diner on the Neighbours Tour in Melbourne

And then it was time to head back to the Neighbours Centre, but not before we saw Detective Alec Skinner (that cop with the moustache who pops up every now and then) cycling past us!

We arrived back in the city in time for lunch! All in all the tour lasts for around 3 hours, with pick up and drop off at the Neighbours Centre on Flinders Street. You can buy souvenirs at the Neighbours Centre but they’re not that exciting (unless you want a cd of Karl Kennedy’s band). The tour we did was the weekday tour but there is a weekend tour also available where you can see the Lassiters complex.

And as cheesy as the soap can be (remember that episode where they saw Santa flying past in the sky?) it will always have a special place on my television screen after our fantastic time in Melbourne!

A girl's guide to Marrakech - dedicated to the wannabe Carrie Bradshaws out there

A girl’s guide to… Marrakech

Anyone who is fan of Sex and the City will know that the second movie, although set in Abu Dhabi, was actually filmed in Marrakech. So for all you cosmo-sipping, handbag-toting, high-heel-wearing fashionistas out there, here is A girl’s guide to Marrakech.

1. Take a leaf out of Miranda’s book – Know before you go.

It is always a wise idea to learn about a country’s customs before you visit, it’s only polite and you don’t want to cause any offense. It also helps if you can learn a little bit of the language. Remember in SATC2 Miranda says that “shukran” means “thank you”? It is also highly beneficial to know that “laa” means “no” so when you are receiving unwanted attention from henna ladies, snake charmers, souk sellers etc etc, a polite “laa shukran” should in most cases be enough to prevent you from being pressured into buying that rug that won’t even fit into your suitcase! You will also find that a little bit of French goes a long way here too, making all those gruelling hours of French lessons you sat through at school all the more worthwhile.

2. Don’t follow in Samantha’s footsteps – Cover up.

Morocco is a conservative country and women in particular should cover up when outside of their hotel. Samantha being Samantha didn’t do this and got into all sorts of trouble. While it is unlikely you’ll get arrested for flashing a bit of cleavage, you may receive some unwanted attention. Invest in some cute maxi skirts/dresses and cover your shoulders with a light scarf, if these aren’t features in your wardrobe then it makes for a good excuse to go shopping!

A girl's guide to Marrakech - definitely go shopping in the souks!

3. Shop like Charlotte – Just save some space in your suitcase for souvenirs!

Don’t get yourself locked away in a room with fake designer handbags quite like Charlotte did, but do spend time wandering around the souks. There are plenty of gorgeous items on offer from leather goods, argan oil beauty products, hand-made jewellery and homeware. Take a wander through this labyrinth of colour and pick yourself up a pretty bracelet or a beautiful pashmina – and don’t forget to haggle for it. If you think that the seller is trying to rip you off, then walk away, as you are likely to find the exact same item a few doors down in another shop.

4. Shun the stilettos – Only Carrie can carry them off!

If you are shopping in the souks, then it is inevitable that you will be doing alot of walking. Carrie Bradshaw may be able to run around all day in 5 inch heels, but trust me you are better off without. This also applies to any excursions you may take into the Atlas Mountains – wear closed in shoes with a bit of grip – there’s slippery mud and snow to contend with up there. You can always purchase yourself some Moroccan Babouche slippers from the souks, just like Carrie did when she left her passport behind, if you want to add a bit of Sex and the City sparkle to your feet.

A girl's guide to Marrakech - babouche shoes

5. Beware of the black henna – keep your hands to yourself.

Henna tattoos look beautiful but beware – black henna has been known to contain toxic chemicals and cause severe skin reactions so the best advice is to avoid getting one. The henna ladies are prevalent on Jemaa el Fna square throughout the day and they are persistent too! They will most likely be called Fatima and will follow you, tell you that you have beautiful eyes and they may even snatch your hand (blink and you have a tattoo – they are that quick!) or they may offer to draw you a small tattoo as a “gift” (which they will later want paying for). Just say “laa shukran” and be on your way – Fatima may be a flatterer but it just isn’t worth the risk of rashes, blisters or worse.

With its snake charmers and magic potions, Marrakech is truly a city that would only otherwise exist in a storybook. So pack your suitcase and grab your passport and make a story of your own – one that Carrie Bradshaw would be proud of!

EDIT: If you do wish to have a henna tattoo done in Marrakech, then check out this post on where to find a non-toxic one!


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A girl's guide to Marrakech. What to Wear and where to shop - handy hints for the Carrie Bradshaw wannabes.