My Mystery Dining Experience

Writing

Sherlock Holmes eat your heart out for I think you’ll find that I’m the true detective when it comes too all things ‘mysterious’.

Well, atleast when it comes to secret dining that is. Having recently signed up to a mystery dining program in the last couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of casting my judgmental beady eye across all sorts, from bitching waiting staff to rather greasy grub and everything inbetween.

‘Mystery dining’, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is the task of eating free food and whinging about the customer service of the waiters. Just kidding, it’s much much more than that. It involves adopting an analytical eye, if you’re a natural people watcher then this job will be right up your street. You basically go out for a meal, acting as you would normally do and then write up a short report at the end of it noting the obvious stuff like the quality of the food and friendliness of the staff. Although the scheme I’ve signed up to doesn’t pay you,it does reimburse you, it isn’t about the money! It’s about improving the standards for the hospitality industry, right?

It’s a good means of enjoying meals out while doing something good for the industry on the whole. Who hasn’t had a bad dining experience? Wouldn’t it be good if you were a part of making this a more rare occurrence than it may currently be?

With dining under the spotlight, let’s have a look at some of the internet’s most shocking alleged dining experiences:

Unsanitary napkin

Liam: That would be the time I pointed out my dirty fork to the waiter. He picked it up along with my own napkin, rubbed the fork, then plonked both items back down and asked if we wanted starters.

Read more: METRO

This diner was disgusted to find maggots in a meal he had ordered at a restaurant - and he was still forced to pay the bill

Read more: Dailymail

One former restaurant worker recalled that cockroaches and flies were commonplace - unbeknownst to the diners

Read more: Dailymail

HOT TO THE TOUCH

“A few years ago, I was at a Mexican restaurant with some friends.

The waiter brings our food, and warns everyone that the plates are very, very hot.

So, of course, the first thing I do is touch my plate.

I burn my thumb on the hot plate, and my automatic reaction is to stick it in my mouth so it will stop hurting.

Just then, the woman at the next table starts yelling at her five-year-old son.

‘Stop sucking your thumb, Bobby! You’re a big boy, and big boys don’t suck their thumbs.’

The five-year-old points at me and screams, ‘They do, too!

He sucks his thumb! Look! He sucks his thumb!’

Everyone in the restaurant turns to look at me, and I try to vanish behind my menu.

Read More: Oola

 

 

Have you ever had a bad dining experience like these? 

 

 

Poem: Winter

Writing

 

Cheeks flushed crimson,

Embers crackle,

As the smoke billows beyond the seams of the Oak smoked door.

 

A faint glow from within the forest,

The little cottage.

Offering temporary relief,

From a permanent frost.

 

Brave the wind, the rain and the snow.

A feat too difficult for now.

Yet a necessity for

Tomorrow.

 

She Threatened To Smash My Face In

Writing

Who walks into a shop to buy some Christmas baubles for their tree and instead has ‘you’re a f*cking b*tch’ screamed into their face as ‘Jingle Bell’s’ plays in the distant background? Only yours truly ofcourse!

Nothing reminds me more of the season of giving than being on the receiving end of the odd curse word, tirade of insults and that all too familiar tsunami of spit. It’s never a dull moment if you’re me in the shops I can assure you of that.

Let’s rewind for a moment, it’s Friday, everyone loves a Friday (unless of course you work weekends, then it sucks to be you). And what better way to kick off the start of the weekend, and the start of your Christmas shopping, than with a wander around overpriced shops? Doing exactly this, last Friday afternoon was rather boring, yet in doing so, I was content within my mundane little bubble until it was abruptly popped by an aggressive ram to the back of my Achilles heels by a stranger’s pram. The force so strong it made the Trojan Horse look like ‘My Little Pony’. I ignore this ‘accident’ from a fellow shopper, perhaps they had a spasm, slipped on a banana peel, had a moment of utter delusionment and unknowingly forgot their manners. And thus, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I continue to rummage through the tat on the shop floor.

No sooner had the pain dissipated from my heels than had it returned again, like an unwanted smell wafting, which you somehow find yourself consistently down wind of. This time I grit my teeth, crumple a pasty paper mache angel decoration in my palm to a pulp and turn to the perpetrator of this unforgivable act.

I thought pigs couldn’t push prams? I say internally as I give the doting new mother a look like she’s just killed my family pet. No amount of make up disguises an ugly personality, with her overlined lips she seethed through gritted teeth for me to ‘not bother giving her dirty looks as she said ”sorry”. To which I blankly stated ‘I wouldn’t, if your pram push wasn’t intentional’. And to this she erupted like a flantulent St Helens. Hotheaded and rough af, she proceeded to storm around the shop like a bull in a china shop spitting verbal abuse at me from left, right and centre. ‘F*cking b*tch this, f*cking b*tch that’, I wish I’d brought my swear jar for this lovely lady.

Before I’d even had a chance to register what was even being said to me, I watched in shock as other shoppers stood from a distance with both caution and concern at the behavior of this show up. I look around me, I too am in shock at this individual’s escalation from 0 to 100, afterall she was the one who rammed me. Eager to diffuse the situation, my attention turned to try and find the shop assistant before matters truly got out of hand. I spotted the manager but on first glance thought she was a mannequin thanks to her lack of expression, concern or action for what was unfolding before her vacant eyes. I pleaded for her to call security as I truly feared for my safety as the headless chicken of a mother hen rampaged through the store, a hurricane chicaning, refusing to relent. The shop manager,  to my utter astonishment, proceeded to flat out tell me that I was making the situation worse. ‘How could a mother with a pram do you any harm? I’m not calling security’. Was her phrasing. I’m sorry but just because you’ve a pram doesn’t making you bloody Mother Theresa. You can’t judge books by their covers. With this I was truly deflated, my safety means nothing to nobody. Had this aggressive individual spoke to the manager or one of her colleagues how I was spoken to, getting up into my face at a point,  I’d like to hope she would’ve had the respect and decency to call security in that instance. But for me, just a ‘shopper’ I’m somehow the problem?

‘Well Merry Christmas to you ya filthy animal! Your shop sells cheap tat anyway!’ I should’ve said, yet with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment and sadness at the event which had just unfolded I left the shop several minutes after my aggressor stormed out at the sound yet unfortunately not the appearance of ‘security’ at my request.

Sitting on a nearby bench to the shop I reflected and wondered had my actions caused such an explosive aftermath? Or can you truly be caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time? Should I have just not turned around when she bumped into me? Was it really an accident?

How can you not turn around if you feel a thump to your legs? If it was an accident why did she do it twice and at such force? Besides from the way she reacted to my turn around said it all. She was quite simply someone with no manners. If she wanted passed, couldn’t she have said ‘excuse me’? But at the end of the day it’s not my job to teach someone manners, and unfortunately the reality is is that sometimes you may find yourself on the receiving end of this. With that aside what hurt me the most was the lack of consideration given to me by the shop manager. Whether I’m a customer who enters your shop to buy a £1 item or £1,000 item, shouldn’t I be treated with the same respect? Isn’t that what all companies looking your custom want to portray, so you shop with them? That they care for you? The takeaway message from that event is that you need to take care of yourself. Not in a  selfish way but have some respect for yourself and your own well-being. Know that how you handle difficult situations says alot about your character aswell as the others involved.

I hope you don’t have the experience I had too often, and that Santa brings you something a little better than a chorus of cussing this festive season.

Merry Christmas! x

 

 

 

Dido In Concert 2019

Writing

Is it bad that I only know two of her songs? That’s right she’s a singer not a prehistoric bird (Dodo). Although at the age of 47 years old, I wonder is her voice as strong as it use to be? Not being ageist but if Sir Paul McCartney’s croaking at the London 2012 olympics was anything to go by then let’s just say pensioner care home choirs need not audition for the X Factor anytime soon. 

 

47 is certainly by no means old, and nor does it mean you should stop singing, I mean look at Cher! But forgive me for being somewhat skeptical ahead of the hitmaker’s concert last night at The Hammersmith Apollo. Will she deliver or will her support act outshine her?

If Eminem deemed her talented enough to be the chorus belter on ‘Stan’ then she must have talent, right?

*One Moment Later

So What’s The Verdict?:

Dido’s voice is flawless, still as ethereal and controlled as it was recorded in the 90’s. The strength of her voice in addition to it’s quality was sustained throughout the full 2 hour show, it didn’t waver once. I strain my voice shouting down a taxi nevermind belting out hit records for hours on end so she gets a massive thumbs up from me on that.

Her warmth onstage shined through also, with a good sense of humour in her anecdotes coupled with context on what encouraged her to create certain songs made for  engaging stage presence.

Dido proves that women in music don’t have to necessarily perform in their underwear to appeal to the masses, afterall she’s been on a hiatus from music for 15 years and still she can command a crowd across international cities.

The evening restored my faith in the music industry (apologies in advance for the terrible quality photos):

She’s not even in this one thanks to the man’s head in the middle! But I liked the flame effect.

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I told you the quality was bad!

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Odid? My sister et moi.

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Poem: La Familia

Writing

La Familia,

Blood’s thicker than water.

A ‘V’ for Vendetta,

If any were to ‘runneth’ over.

 

Sibling feuding subsides,

Eyes are dried as,

The belly of the beast rolls over in submission.

Fist fights in a blink of an eye become,

Nothing more than a memory of augmented vision.

 

La Famila,

The Family,

The Clan.

Does the man make the family,

Or does the family make the man?

I Thought I Was Going Blind

Writing

Sitting at my desk in the office yesterday morning, everything was just peachy (or so I thought). Despite my eyelids occasionally closing over due to boredom, for the rare moments I decided to forcefully will them open, I could see as clear as day.

 

But for some reason or other I decided to wink at my morning array of spreadsheets and in doing so came to the stark realisation that my vision in my left eye was completely blurry.

 

 My vision through my right eye only was fine, through both eyes combined  it was fine, yet when solely using my left eye to look at the screen I was met with a blurred mess. It was as if someone had just poked my cornea with a vaseline blobbed finger and then proceeded to hold my head over a spoiled scrabble board. 

 

Feeling like I was about to give the game up on my sight I started panicking. Quietly. With the blurriness becoming progressively stronger I speedily sent my manager an email emphasising that my vision was weakening and that I needed to go to the opticians straight away. So sprinting into the store in an unshakeable panic I begged for an immediate eye test. My fear was less about my actual eye health to be honest and more about the condition of my brain. The earliest eye test to my dismay was to be a one hour wait. 

 

Advised to head to A&E if it got worse, I  instead chose to wait it out. Waiting out the time felt like a lifetime. Back to the opticians an hour later and I’m getting air shot into my eye and asked if I could read outloud a love letter that had been etched onto the back of a postage stamp. 

 

What were the results? 

 

Following an array of tests, I was put out of my misery as the optometrist declared that my eyes and corresponding vessels were all healthy. 

 

So what was causing the blurriness? And why was it only in one eye? 

 

The glasses. 😦

 

The bloody things which were meant to better my eyesight ironically played a crucial part in its deterioration. 

 

It’s because of the following explanation that I urge you to ensure that you get your eyes tested frequently and make sure your prescription is the most accurate  and updated one tailored for your sight. 

 

It starts with the fact that no two eyes are ever going to be the same strength, and for me my right eye is stronger than my left. So in theory I would need different lens strengths in my glasses, with each lens being specifically made for each eye. What happened in this situation was that this was not the case. Instead, the lens magnification which best suited my stronger right eye was placed into both the left and right eye section of the glasses. As a result my left eye was being put under constant strain every time I wore my glasses, to the point where the muscles were overworking so much it resulted in what felt like a remaining partial blindness in the left eye. 

 

Examples to describe giving the wrong glasses may be along the lines of:

 

-Giving chocolate to a dog. It poisons them. 

-Pouring salt on a slug. It does them no favours

-Giving someone a chocolate teapot. It’s useless. 

 

The bottom line is the glasses were not helping my eyes, they were hindering them, hence not fulfilling their purpose!

 

So Now I’m met with the choice of either not wearing glasses at all while I’m doing computer work or paying between £39 – £69 per pair (I have two pairs with these incorrectly fitted lenses). Do you think they should pay for the lens change? Or should I?

 

**This frightful momentary state of panic made me appreciate how complex we are as humans. It made me realise how important it is to look after yourself. We are human beings, made up of such complex biology. It’s astonishing how every cell in our bodies serves a purpose. And how easy it is for part of this harmony to be abruptly thrown out of sync.

 

Take care of yourself!

Is It Nice To Be Nice To Others?

Writing

Living in a city, living on top of each other, I think it’s easy to get impatient and somewhat claustrophobic. Carrying out my own little experiment in the last couple of months has brought with it some striking revelations. 

I wanted to test the waters – does being nice to people make them nicer to you? 

So to test this, I carried out the following experiments, firstly I would be ‘impatient’ with people, not overtly rude, but instead show my disapproval to something I found they were doing annoying. Then following on from this, for the remaining weeks I would put effort in to be nicer than necessary e.g. smiling at a stranger in the park, asking an eldelry person if they needed help carrying their groceries and so on….. 

This is how it unfolded:

The Supermarket Face Smasher

If you read my post on pet peeves then you’ll know my utmost deteste for queue jumpers, almost as much as I hate when someone shoulder barge me to get out of the queue.  Lining up at the self-checkout a random woman decides she no longer wants to be in the queue, which is fine (I thought). She proceeds to try and exit the queue through the most awkward of routes, squeezing passed everyman man, woman and child still in the queue instead of just going through the self checkouts. As she passes me in the queue she almost knocks me flying.

This is where I have a decision to stfu or say something, as it’s the mean experimental month I utter ‘you could’ve said excuse me’, she then says ‘excuse me’ in an aggressive tone to which I repeat ‘you could’ve said excuse me’ her next comment was ‘I’ll smash your face in!’ Security de-escalated the issue pretty quickly but let’s just say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. She may have looked like your plain Jane but really probably is the kind of person who acts like their sh*t doesn’t stink and would quite happily lock their husband/wife up in the downstairs basement for not hoovering the floor by the time they got back from strangling their colleague at work. 

Note to experiment – don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Should I have said something? I think not!

Tut Tut Tut

Train etiquette for anyone with manners is – if you’re at the platform waiting for someone to get on then you wait until anyone exiting the train carriage has gotten OFF! Obviously some ignorant individuals didn’t get the memo because as I approached the exit doors of the train all I could see was this keen bean of an ignoramus prancing up onto the carriage just as the doors were opening, I try to step off but he basically baracades me in the carriage, I swerve passed him tutting as loud as a jet engine into his left ear, to which he responds with an inferior tut, I then wanted to have the last tut so I tut again, he then looks round at me as the train doors are closing, he, now inside the carriage and me on the platform tuts again, I watch the train pull off now unable to see him clearly as the windows are slightly blacked out but still stubborn I gave one final tut and walked off laughing at both of our pettiness. 

Tutting wars! I’m sorry but this guy was all self with – ‘I want on the train, I don’t care if I block you getting off, blah blah blah’ marked across his forehead.

Should I Have tutted? No (I should’ve fly-kicked him back out the train doors).

The list of petty squabbles goes on ashamedly, but all for the name of science!

Fast forward a few weeks later and the mother Therea in me makes an appearance in full force, I’m rescuing kittens from trees, stopping crime in its tracks, helping old ladies cross roads. Ok maybe not this far but I did try and go out of my way to be nicer than what would be accepted as normal, and in the process got a few weird looks but also a few genuine smiles. Let me tell you why:

It’s In The Eyes

For the most part we go through life minding our own business, especially when walking down streets. Here, it can sometimes feel like the pavement is a magnet for our eyes in order for us to avoid the awkward eye contact with a passerby. I wanted to see if I could break this  internal awkwardness and see if I could instead show eye contact to a total stranger alongside a polite smile to see if it could be reciprocated. 

The success rate was surprisingly promising, not that I walked around in public like a grinning cheshire cat, I chose my targets wisely and pleasantly enough us city dwellers are warm when given the chance. 

Note: The acknowledgment of someone else’s existence should be encouraged more! 

Volunteering

My previous post outlines my recent volunteering experience, but to be clear I didn’t choose to volunteer for an experiment it was for much deeper personal reasons I may share in the future. But nevertheless it really emphasises that doing good for others in return can make you feel better about yourself. 

Note: Help others and you help yourself.

Conclusion

I carried out minor behaviors to see if it changed my external environment, if it changed people’s interactions with me, and in conclusion I believe it did.

Does being nice to people mean they’ll be nice to you? Not all the time, but I definitely think it does for the majority of time. 

I’m not saying you should change how you act just to get people to like you but I think on a minor level, simply being aware of your behaviour in more settings will help both you and the people around you. This is what I have found in my own experience, it is nice to be nice to people. And that most people are nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Take For Granted?

Writing

I recently started volunteering at a charity for children with additional needs.  The charity provides free sports and activity sessions to give these children the opportunity to play and have fun as any child should have the right to do. 

 

Having only attended  a moderate number of session so far I can already feel that volunteering is making an impact on me. 

 

I come away from the sessions with so many feelings and questions. 

 

I asked myself on the train heading away from the venue this week – are the children trapped in their own little worlds, or have they escaped the chaos of mine?

 

They won’t experience the world in the way I do, but as my sister rightly said, they may be happy in their life. If born the way they are then they know no other way of living so how can they miss  or be annoyed at not having another way of living? A point I could not disagree with,

 

Volunteering is a humbling experience, I realise how much I may take for granted. If you can read what I’m writing right now then you are privileged as there are still 750 million illiterate adults across the world today. If you can understand these words in English then you are within 20% of the world’s population that can.

 

This is not me trying to play top trumps, I’m not saying that because you and I can read and another person cannot, this makes us better than them, not at all., I simply mean our ability to read is almost taken for granted, we think nothing of it to read signs and books, yet somewhere else in the world a person cannot do this. 

 

We live in a society of ‘I want more, more, more’, we always want more money, more friends, more holidays. And we forget to notice our most fundamental abilities, we take these privileges for granted: talking, listening, reading, writing. All taken for granted. 

 

Being a charity volunteer is a humbling experience, bringing with it an appreciation, a gratitude for many factors of my life which I may have ashamedly overlooked previous to this. Maybe our own lives would be alot happier if we focused on being thankful for the simple things instead of material things.  

What’s Your Biggest Pet Peeve(s)?

Writing

This thought infiltrated my mind with the waft of a ‘ploughman’s lunch’ on the train during my early morning commute to work today. For anyone unfamiliar with this term ‘ploughman’s lunch’, you’ve lived a very sheltered childhood, a very lucky childhood. It’s basically a cheese (sewage) and pickle sandwich, and the scent and sight of it makes my skin crawl. 

 

Today my attention was brought to a rather ravenous commuter munching on his sandwich like he was attending the last supper. Which I found particularly revolting in itself, no hand sanitizer + grotty train = hepatitis by mid-afternoon. But little did I know the levels of grossness this guy would sink to had no limits. Once he finished (thank God), he proceeded to throw the sandwich foil on the ground and started picking his nose rather aggressively. I turned my head away in a knee-jerk reaction to this, but like we all do, when someone is doing something abnormally gross we have to keep peering back. Like, whenever we chop garlic and then can smell it on our fingers for days, we keep checking our fingers daily to see if the smell remains, don’t you do that? I peer down the train carriage at him as he digs for gold, my brow furrows even deeper the more he digs into his flared nostrils. Repulsive! Thank goodness I got off at the next stop, I can only fear what he would’ve done next!

 

It got me thinking, what’s your biggest pet peeve? For me the list is never ending but to save time I’ll have to go with these top 3 in no particular order :

 

  1. Loud talkers
  2. People who smack with their mouths while eating
  3. Queue jumpers

 

Let’s see what some countries voted as their top pet peeves courtesy of Forbes:

 

  • Americans get more irritated than other nationals by co-workers taking others’ food from the office refrigerator.
  • Brazilians are the most annoyed of any national group by excessive gossiping.
  • Germans are annoyed by dirty common areas (the community microwave or refrigerator) more than the rest of the world.
  • Indians react more negatively to irritating mobile phone ringtones.
  • Japanese are more peeved by office pranks than others.

 

Relate to any of the above?

Poem: Stress

Writing

Stress.
The subtle strangler.
It manifests itself in many ways.
A fabrication of the mind.
Sending cortisol coursing through our veins.

Life – so full of precious pressures.
So petty, so small, minute.
‘A busy life is a happy one.’
A lie disguised as truth.

P*ss Off Christmas!

Writing

No sooner has the Grim Reaper even had a chance to pull out his scythe from under his cloak for the Halloween happenings than has every man and his dog cracked open the bottle of eggnog whilst covering outdated Christmas carols in the key of ‘sounds like I’m being choked out in a headlock’.

Christmas comes sooner and sooner with each passing year, and with that, my patience gets thinner and thinner!

Not content with keeping the festivities wrapped up in the comfort of our own homes, as low and behold the shops are at it too! Their plethora of pompous plastic propaganda is quite simply preposterous! Crowing their untimely festive ‘hello’ in the form of silver tinsel, shiny baubles and ofcourse the Christmas cards which you gift to the neighbours you don’t so much as blink an eye at the during the other 364 days of the year.

As the Santa sign with his harem of reindeer in tow swings carelessly above the heads of the unwitting shoppers who stock up like apocalypse preppers below, the shelf stockers are fast replenishing the sold out supply of extra wide aluminum foil and the Christmas crackers that do the toenail clippers. Cheery Christmas jargon is sprawled across the shop floor like your aunt across the king-size during the night of your cousin’s conception. Mid-November really has that festive feel about it, doesn’t it?

Sing along shenanigans, sherries, shandies,
Family fights, half necked-back brandies.

It’s all kicking off in Autumn 2019!

Not that I’m yearning to be the female version of Scrooge this year but is there really anything wrong with wanting the festive cheer to not start early? If Christmas can start early then why can’t the purge?

Can Christmas really start too soon, I hear you squeak? Yes! When it leads to a country’s recession! Starting Christmas that little bit earlier means putting your hand into your pocket that little bit deeper. Which means you’ll be giving up that kidney to the black market that little bit faster. And let’s face it, we all need as many kidneys as we can get our grubby hands on during the later months of the year.

Blowing your pension fund on secret Santa presents is all good if you’ve recently won the lotto or bumped off your wealthy mum and dad to gain access to their will, but for the rest of us unlucky law abiding citizens, Christmas just puts the ‘Christ’ in our mouths everytime we pull out our wallets.

Soon the case will be that Christmas officially ends on the 26th Dec and officially starts again on the 1 January the following year.

I might as well wish you a Merry Christmas now, in advance of Christmas 2020 for the way things are going, so here:

 

Merry Christmas ya filthy animal!

 

Poem: Home

Writing

Where is ‘home’?

Is home my little brick house by the sea, corroded by gale gusts and seagulls?

Is home the place in my mind, that place noone else can see of?

Does my heart lead me home, where my parents still reside?

Or if migrated, is it instead the place where I first began life?

Tell me –  ‘home’?

Is it just a little place that we dream of?

 

What if I said that I had no ‘home’?

Would this be a joy or tragedy?

A nomad has no set land of their own.

So does this mean that they must live life tragically?

 

Why do we feel the need to call a certain location a ‘home’?

For a sense of security, comfort and shelter?

If we were to all lose our homes tomorrow,

Would it be for the worse or for the better?

 

 

 

 

Homesickness & Appreciation

Writing

Am I the only person who gained a newfound appreciation for my home country only once moving away from it?

I think the saying is true, we don’t really know how much we miss something until we no longer have it. And this point couldn’t have revealed itself to be more true than during my recent trip back to visit my parents in Northern Ireland.

I use to think that the little town I grew up in had nothing going for it. But actually it has quite the opposite, it holds my most cherished childhood memories, from my first day at primary school to the day I left for university, it was the place I was a child, the place where I was brought into this world. And I will always be thankful for that. Northern Ireland, in such a contrasting way to my parent’s experience due to The Troubles, gave me an overall safe childhood, filled with an eclectic range of memories, from my 12 year old self racing snails on makeshift race tracks I caught in the local park to my awkward yet endearing coming of age self throwing the bizarrest of shapes at school prom nights in cold Decembers.

I used to think I was from a quite a quiet place but with time my perception has changed, I’ve came from quite a peaceful place. That the smell of manure infiltrated my lungs making me wish I didn’t have a nose at some stages, yet now, I see it as a welcome home sign, a pleasant change from more polluted places.

To be clear, I’m not trying to say that I detest city life, if that were the case I wouldn’t be living in a city. Infact I like living in a city because it makes me appreciate the places I visit when I’m not in the city even more if that makes any sense!

Do you have an appreciation for your country of birth?

 

Poem: A Parent’s Love

Writing
A Parent’s Love
Embers of amor engulf us as you touch my face once more.
Held in your arms as closely as the day on which I was born.
You have loved me from the moment my heart began beating.
A childhood spent with you,
If only time could be repeated.
Although I will grow up,
I will always be your child.
A bond that’s shared – so strong,
A love so unconditional – it’s blind.
**Picture taken by me at Woburn Safari Park in Summer 2019.

Review: The Aeronaut

Writing

Not to be confused with ‘the astronaut’ this eccentric public house also doubles up as a theatrical extravaganza. From circus to stand up comedy and everything inbetween, why be on the moon when you could be poking somebody in the neck with a pickled frankfurter?

 

Atleast this is what I came to realise on my recent escapade to the Acton based watering house this Friday passed. Voted ‘best pub in west London’ by event ticketing website ‘design my night‘, I thought I’d pay it a visit to see if it really did stand up to this accolade.

 

Strolling up on that dark Friday evening with my lovely friend from university – Leo, we entered with great anticipation. Inside, it appeared to my eyes to be something similar to, if you know the scene, in Harry Potter when Professor Slughorn holds a glorious Christmas party in an outdoor tent. Well, this place, with arguably the same amount of magical enchantment donned a similar decor. With crimson and canary pinstripe material draped  throughout the walls of the main theatre area. And as if the outdoor beer garden wanted to adopt this lively pattern too, a continuation of the vividly coloured striping within each heated little cabin in the garden area took form also.

In the main bar section to the left of the theatre area was a spooktacular salute to all things Halloween. I could see clouds of cobwebs as thick as smog, so dense it put my own home’s to shame. I also spotted pumpkins carved into everything under the sun, from self-portraits to spinal cords. Stumbling further through the zany labyrinth I became aware of the volume of two mens’ voices, they were becoming distinctively louder, also equally alarming to the volume was the words they were saying with such conviction. Something like ‘shoot em’ again, shoot em’ again’ I almost froze in fear, if curiosity hadn’t got the better of me I probably would still be standing there now. With my beady eyes and increasing paranoia I turned the corner of the corridor of the pub expecting to see a crime scene infront of me, yet instead the real crime was done on my eyes as I seen before me the cumbersome movements of two grown men banging into the walls and eachother in such animated fashion. Turns out they were wearing VR (virtual reality) headsets playing what looked like some simulated version of Call of Duty.

With the investigation solved, Leo and I returned to the theatre. No sooner had we entered than were we greeted by a granny named Maggie, conversing with us in a thick brogue straight from the highlands of Scotland.. Little did I know soon Maggie would be taking to the stage to do her comedy act.

Before Maggie was to crack a few knock knock jokes, another lady came round to the table Leo and I claimed as our own for the 2 hour performance about to unfold. She asked us how exactly we were related to Maggie. At first her question bewildered me and then I realised oh it’s an interactive comedy, and that’s when the meatsweats started. Maggie the old bat, was part of the onstage comedy trio who would be performing a sketch inwhich the objective of the storyline was that some of the geriatrics would compete against eachother to be lead event organisers of their carehome, and it was our job their audience, soon to be mock family members , to take part in the ‘competition’ also on behalf of our elderly relative.

Leo naturally piped up saying with great conviction that we were to be Maggie’s grandmother, which is obviously a realistic family member to be to an 80 year old. So no sooner had we taken our seats than had the show began with the aim of the game being Maggie’s family would compete with Arthur’s family (the other old guy) in a range of interactive tasks in a bid to help their elderly relative win the coveted role of event planner.

The interactive activities included seeing who could wrap their partner up in a full roll of cellotape the fastest, guessing whether sausage or a finger poked you in the back of the neck (I had the pleasure of taking part in this one,  getting poked by some stranger’s sausage), putting tights on your partner without them using their hands the fastest and then consequently seeing how many objects you can stuff down those tights on your partner (someone got a chair leg in and suspended the chair in mid air, that must’ve hurt the crotch).

The winning team at the end got a bottle of Prosecco, and the fact that we went away empty handed is evidence that Arthur’s team won.

Would I go back again for a rematch? Definitely!

 

The only thing is, which is both good and bad about The Aeronaut is that their lineup of performance acts can vary so you may not see the same act twice. I guess what they give is a taster, an exhibition of quality talent, that if it impresses you enough you’ll go see them again wherever they perform.

I’ve booked my tickets for their upcoming comedy night, called ‘sketch n scratch’. Reminds of another saying involving scratching……

If you’re ever in Acton give them a chance to make a fool out of you, I’ve no doubt you’ll thank them for it!

 

Poem: Anger

Writing

Teeth grit like vice grips on steel.

The metallic hiss rings unforgivingly long.

I raise my hands to the air

Empty handed I surrender.

Empty handed I look for answers.

Yet none rings true for this.

Like a swinging pendulum

I’m hot and then cold

Impatience – an unwelcome friend yet makes itself all too known.

Trying to pacify myself is like

Trying to run backwards up a hill.

Continuously falling downwards.

Makes for a bitter

Pill.

To swallow.

I wallow,

I’m self pity.

Woe be to me for I have seen more tragedy,

In my little mind’s eye than you’ve seen wrongs over rights.

More sleepless nights,

As the hag rides,

Drive bys

Seem like nursery rhymes

Compared the stories I rewind at bedtime.

My Michelin Star Experience

Writing

More accustomed to the taste of my mother’s burnt toast and beans combo, I was hoping and praying that a trip to a 1-Michelin starred and 4 AA Rosetted gourmet restaurant in the heart of one of  London’s most affluent hotspot’s – Green Park would be able to suppress those charcoal tasting memories of mother’s best dishes.

Team at Seven Park Place By William Drabble

Did it do the trick? Let’s find out, food critics eat your heart out at my review to follow:

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Here’s me with a piece of bread.

 

Initially when I walked into the restaurant I thought I’d actually entered the wrong place, for it looked more like the Louvre in Paris than a place you’d get stuck into some lamb’s neck at. Anyhow my state of confusion quickly dissipated as I followed the overly nice and handsome waiter to the table for two beneath the beautifully painted piece of art, it was done with much ease I can assure you of that.

The menus arrived, my brother and I went for the 3 course option (as you do) and decided to go halvsies on each dish, as there was a choice of two for each course.

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Can you guess what this was? Yes, liquid gold. A little teacup of deliciousness in the form of fish broth frothed so lightly the clouds above us were jealous. Sprinkled with crispy little croutons complimentary of the chef.

With our appetites well and truly wetted from the soup + bread pairing I was ready for the starters!

Starters

Which appeals to your more from the below choices:

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Seared fillet of mackerel with spiced apple chutney, spiced apple and fennel remoulade

This had to be my favourite dish of the experience to be honest. The saltiness of the mackerel worked so well with the sweetness of the apple, and the crispy onion rings topped it all off with a little ‘crunch’. Delightful, however being carby me, I couldn’t help but think ‘where are the chips at?’

 

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Open ravioli of pumpkin and aged parmesan with sage, pine nuts with nut brown butter

A tasty little parcel of pumpkin and Parmesan, the pine nuts gave it a crunch so that it wasn’t to reminiscent of baby food. But being a fan of umami flavouring, the mackerel stole my heart. But overall even though I’m not a huge pasta lover, the ravioli damn near converted me.

Mains

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Roasted fillet of cod, cep mash, roasted celeriac emulsion

Cod is quite a bland fish to me, like alot of white fish but I have to say, somehow they injected some taste into this one. It wasn’t dry which is another reason I tend to give white fist a wide berth. Nice chunky piece with mash and a fishy gravy, what’s not to like?

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Assiette of lamb with rosemary jus

Look at the shine of that sauce! You can almost see me taking the picture in it! I loved the fillet and the neck, not too fussed on the meat pie, all I could hear the waiter say was heart and liver which almost turned my stomach. Other than that, a tasty dish.

Desserts

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Chocolate and Hazlenut

As a fan of chocolatey desserts, I can’t lie when I say I was looking forward to this the most when I seen it on the menu. It looks great doesn’t it, apart form that chocolate smear on the bottom, can a chocolate smear ever look appetizing?

The chocolate droppings were suped up with hazlenut, the little chocolate platform was composed of smooth chocolate paneling, which encased a hybrid like texture of cake and mousse. If that even makes sense, I don’t know what it was exactly, I just know it tasted good! Finished off was the sugar work which  I accidentally snapped off and swooshed onto the floor in one fell swoop as I reached for a spoon seconds after this photo was taken (better after than before).

 

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Lemon Meringue with a sable crumble and yuzu lemon sorbet

Thank goodness we didn’t have sensitive teeth, for the sorbet was as cold as the arctic, the chilled temperature mixed with the tartness made for a zesty explosion of refreshment. The only negative thing I would say was – where was the meringue?! It was so flat to the plate 😦 But anyhow I loved the flavours. Great dessert to end on, for it really cleansed the palate after the several courses of rich, intensely flavoured plates of food.

So what did we think of the food, should you give William  Drabble a go when you’re in London?

We’ll let this image be the deciding factor for you:

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Change

Writing

I feel like I’m in such a weird space at present, no sooner have I moved flat than I’m trawling the jobboards of everything from Indeed.com to Craigslist (ok maybe not Craigslist).  Being a seasoned veteran on these job sites is not something I’m proud of, frequenting them so much that Google ads now pop up with ‘need a new job?’ as I’m downloading a voucher off Groupon for a pair of discounted leggings.

What’s going on with me?

I just have this inbuilt element of restlessness, like the kind you get when you sit on a computer chair for too long and your ass starts getting really itchy. I have to get up and move, find something different. I truly think there’s something not right with me, I honestly get bored of things too frequently and too quickly. Tell me I’m NOT the only one who feels this way?!

This attitude has seeped its way into every aspect of my life, from where I live to what I eat. I’m a glutenous pig for chips, but I just can’t stomach any other food item repeated more that twice in a row.

This element of ‘change’ has sprung to mind in more recent times as I think about how much change I’ve actually went through since moving to London. Change to me is like a flame to a moth, I’m attracted to it but with dangerous consequences.

Jobs, housing, hobbies, hair colour! I’ve done it all! I seriously ask myself if I’m having some sort of identity crisis, a quarter life breakdown, perhaps? But these frantic thoughts and feelings are swiftly pacified by a session of binge eating and multiple episodes of ‘Botched’. But  I guess you can only suppress your feelings for so long, sooner or later they creep back out from under the woodwork. Manifest themselves in mysterious ways. If you’ve ever found yourself getting annoyed at the checkout lady in the supermarket for not scanning through your groceries fast enough then maybe it’s actually a sign that you’re internally annoyed at yourself for something. or if you find yourself crying after impulsively ending the short life of a housefly which landed on your homemade Victoria sponge, maybe it’s time for some self-reflection.

At least this is what I’ve found in my own life, frustration in myself can wrongfully be taken out on those closest to me. One thing I get frustrated about is this sense that we have such little time on this planet and it’s as if I change what I’m doing a little too often because in some subconscious way I have massive fomo (fear of missing out). Life is short I want to try as much as I can, I guess. But is this really the best attitude to have?

There’s really no point getting worked up about time, I know that but sometimes you can’t help it. When you see people your age travelling or enjoying certain experiences you can’t help but wish you had those too, right? That’s why I think social media on the whole isn’t a good thing for people’s mental health. We are being bombarded by a plethora of photoshopped pictures, and rented out rich lifestyles. Photos and opinions are liked and disliked, all of it a facade at the end of the day.

Apologies, I feel like I’m going off on a bit of a tangent, I just wanted to share with you this element of change I’m going through currently. I wonder if I’m alone with this, or have you went through change as frequently as I?

I’ll leave this with you, the words of Greek Philosopher Heraclitus (terrible choice of name):

change is the only constant in life.”

 

 

 

 

An Evening Lit By Candlelight

Writing

It’s been a hot minute (I hate that term) since I’ve written anything mildly conducive to that of an Individual with half a brain cell..

I don’t know why but lately I’ve found it difficult being organised, finding time to post anything. I’ve found it difficult feeling fulfilled. So much so that I’ve perhaps exchanged the time dedicated to blogging to doing ‘other things ‘ which may have promise of filling this void of unfulfillment.

So last week I told myself I would try some new things. But one thing I didn’t expect to do was

Grieve. In public.

A friend of mine lost her father earlier this year and invited me to attend a grieving event in London the Sunday just passed. I can’t deny that I was apprehensive to attend. I thought grief was an emotion shown only to your closest of family members, not strangers seated before a candlelit table, but as the experience taught me, sometimes strangers can offer a support of their own in a profound way.

Ofcourse hindsight is a beautiful thing, because prior to the event I was truly afraid incase it would leave me with an overbearing feeling of sadness. A selfish thing to say, I know. But there’s a reason why grieving events aren’t as popular as club nights, I’m sure we can all agree on this. At the same time I was fearful that I may not connect enough, and show a lacking depth of emotion.

Regardless of my internally antagonistic thoughts which churned almost as aggressively as the butterflies in my queasy stomach, I attended.

On arrival I had anticipated an event somewhat structured like that of an alcoholics anonymous session, yet it was far from that. Held in a room not big enough to swing a cat in, attached by a tiny corridor to the rest of the building which took the form of a boisterously bustling bar. Quite a dissimilar fit I thought as I was greeted at the door of this tiny corridor by the friendly faced event organiser. 

 

Entering the room as a latecomer, my friend and I sat in the remaining two chairs at a table already occupied by eight. All women, no men. Which was something quite resonating and sad in itself. I took a seat and looked around at the faces, and was met with a mixture of emotions, from sadness to restraint.

We took it in turn sharing stories of the people close to us who we had lost, I found it a bit too much at times to be honest. Without delving too deep, witnessing the tellings of stories of battles with long term illnesses and overdoses was a sobering experience. Sitting in this little room lit by candlelight, the soft glow emphasising the pained expressions of the women in attendance. The atmosphere was vulnerable and heavy and raw.

I came away from the evening thinking of how we all live in our own little bubbles and sometimes think that we are the only ones going through troubles, that dark times just aren’t as dark for others as they are for us. But that Sunday evening proved to me that this just isn’t the case. 

I’m not saying that it’s a good thing that you or I are not the only ones suffering in the world but what I am saying is that there’s a relatability and with this comes shared understanding and support if needed. If you are facing a challenging time in your life, chances are someone else is too. And what we find is talking outward about an issue is always healthier than internalizing it. 

I thought I would come out of the grieving event on a low and I did temporarily due to the nature of the event but on the whole I came away taking with me a sense that everyone has ups and downs in life and that support is there for you. You really aren’t alone.