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 J is for Japanese Food

Alphabet Dating – J is for Japanese Food

We put Alphabet Dating on hold for the busy and expensive month of December, which meant that our ‘J’ date fell in January. As we both love Japanese food we decided to try out a new Japanese restaurant.

Black and red decor inside a Japanese restaurant

We went to Love Sushi in Maidstone, Kent on a cold and dreary Sunday afternoon. The restaurant was pretty quiet but was kitted out in a smart, stylish black and red oriental style. We had the option of sitting in a booth or next to the sushi conveyor belt. We chose the belt although it was pretty pointless given that there were barely any dishes circulating the belt. Still, we grabbed a random one to share and ordered some hot food – tempura prawns and chicken udon noodles. I also ordered a Philly Cheese sushi roll.

Japanese food - an idea for letter J Alphabet date

Tempura prawns - Japanese food

The food was really good, probably one of the best tempura prawns I’ve tried outside of Japan – and I don’t even like prawns unless they’re covered in tempura batter! The noodle dish was also large and filling and the sushi all very tasty and beautifully presented.

As much as we enjoyed the food, we felt that the restaurant was lacking in… something I can’t quite put my finger on. It may have helped to have a picture menu a la Yo Sushi to help identify some of the sushi dishes and perhaps the atmosphere lacked a little as it was quiet, I don’t know. Still, I’d go back but just not on a Sunday afternoon!

Udon noodles

If you enjoyed this post then whet your appetite with some other of my Japanese foodie adventures, such as my Kaiseki meal at a Japanese Ryokan or my recommendation of 10 foods to try in Japan. Or if you’re London bound then how about an Asian Fusion restaurant in Soho with an interactive menu?

You might also like to read about my other Alphabet Dates!

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 - 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 - 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!