Category Archives: Events

So this is (not quite) 40…

I think I’ve done spectacularly well at not falling apart at the approach of 40 but it is now just a week away and I’m starting to panic. I really do feel I should have some sort of pre-40 bucket list but with only a week to go so it’s unlikely that I’m going to find myself in Fiji and snorkelling with dolphins or skydiving in Outer Mongolia. And to be honest, as a terrible swimmer and with a pathological inability to do anything that’s even a little bit risky, those things wouldn’t be going on my bucket list anyway. Going to Fiji and sitting on a beach – that one’s definitely on the list.

It does however seem appropriate to mark this birthday as it’s a milestone, even if I did celebrate it two years ago (thanks Nat!) These are all things about me (weird huh?) but obviously, things like spending time with friends, family, loved ones feature high on this list. But that’s not a pre-40 thing, that’s a thing I will do for the rest of my days.

Decorate a cake well. I love to bake, you may have noticed. But I cannot decorate a cake for love nor money. I don’t have the patience or the skill. But, you know what, I am going to do it, goddamnit and it’s going to look amazing. I’d love to hear your tips for doing this, other than practice practice practice.  I’m looking for cheats.

This cake is by the incredible www.fondantfox.com who make stunning cakes. I would like to make something that looked half as good as this.
This cake is by the incredible http://www.fondantfox.com who make stunning cakes. I would like to make something that looked half as good as this.

Use my morning hours. I wake early, it is my superpower. But I often wake early and then do nothing till the wino wakes up so I’m going to take up something which makes use of the hours that I’m awake. Maybe decorating cakes. But more likely to do <gasp> sport of some variety.

Stop looking like a reject from a 1990s boyband. I have been sporting an asymmetric hair do for a few months now, it’s one of my go-to dos when I’m feeling blue (poetry, right there) But I’m also rubbish at hair maintenance and so as the do grows out (it’s quite short), it starts to look more and more like I am stuck in 1994 and a boy. It is not a good look. So I am off to see the lovely Tom and get him to reinvigorate my hair into something that isn’t ridiculous. And whilst I’m there, I’m probably going to get it coloured, for shits and giggles. Because why not.

Picture this do on a brown lady. That's me right now.
Picture this lovely Ryan Gosling do on a brown lady with black hair. That’s me right now.

Spend more time with my Nikon DSLR and its many lenses. God, I love my Nikon. But I seem to only take my Nikon on lovely holidays with me and never hang out in London town with it. So I’m going to go and practice what I learned two years ago on the amazing London Photography School course I did and make a pact with myself to use it much more regularly. Which may also involve buying a handbag that looks good and can fit all its many lenses. Anything for a new handbag.

IMG_20150121_230909

Start plotting out my novel. We all want to write one, right? I have always wanted to write one anyway. So that’s on the list for the next few weeks, get a start on it and then aim to finish it before my 50th birthday bucket list kicks in.

Get a birthday book thingie. I am literally the most terrible person for forgetting birthdays and god bless Facebook for the reminders, but I think I’m now of an age when I should be posting cards to people I don’t see, not posting inane messages on their virtual walls. To be fair, this is just a life thing rather than a pre-40 thing but let’s see if I can be a proper grown up before I hit 40. That’d be a rare treat.

Any other suggestions for what I can achieve in the next few weeks? The only pre-requisites are not life threatening nor expensive and that’ll make me feel as though I’ve achieved something! Woo!

Im-almost-40-ecard

Gin Gin Gin Gin Gin.

The title of this post was the description of the second to last photo I Instagrammed on Saturday night, after a day filled with drinking gin. I’m pretty sure I thought I was being eloquent and interesting with that but given the last Instagram photo was at McDonald’s, I don’t think my brain was working as well as I thought.

IMAG1294

I like gin. I like gin and tonic. I like gin and ginger. I like gin martinis (dry, with three olives, since you asked.) I like gin in cakes (weird right? But gooooood). I like that it is great in winter or summer. And a discovery in recent years botanicals a gin can make, so the rise of artisan gins has opened up a whole new world of alcohol(ism) for me. And let’s be honest, I’m a bit of a gin snob.

So when my dear friend of 30 years, Sue, who is also a big old alcoholic gin fan suggested we attend The London Gin Festival, I was more than happy to oblige. For education purposes only, of course.

We've been friends for 30 years. This scares me a bit. We're OLD.
We’ve been friends for 30 years. This scares me a bit. We’re OLD.

The London Gin Festival took place at the Camden Centre in Kings Cross last weekend and I believe it pops up around the country inspiring people to try artisan gins. The event is sponsored by Fever Tree, which if you’ve got tonic snob tendencies (I do) is amongst the best tonics out there.

Love this building
Love this building

We were booked in for the evening session, with Sue’s friend Jo, so the three of us sensibly met at lunchtime in order to line our stomachs. Which we did – at Plum and Spilt Milk where we had quite average bar snacks and not bad coffee, followed by a swift round of cocktails at the Gilbert Scott (always a delightful treat), followed by lunch at the Fellow (my favourite Kings Cross boozer) with too much wine. All told, we’d had a few ‘refreshers’ before getting to the gin fest so I’m not sure I was in the right frame of mind to be educated. But I was definitely up for drinking.

The Honeybee at the Gilbert Scott

The £10 entry fee to the Gin Festival presents you with a gigantic glass, a badge, a pen, a catalogue and a order form. In order to get drinks, you need tokens at £5 a pop – so we bought four each. And then another two each later in the evening. We were basically saint like in our gin intake.

The Gin Festival is home to 100+ gins from all over the world. There is no way you’re going to get through 100 gins (at least, not if you like your liver at all) so if you make it to a future event, it’s worth having a look through the catalogue on arrival and choosing a handful that sound interesting to you. It gets quite busy, as you’ll see from the pictures below, but the layout means you’re never really queuing for a drink, you’re mostly being annoying looking at the different gins on each bar.

IMAG1298

IMAG1291

We were given a free shot of Brockman’s when we arrived. This had quite a fruity taste, which wasn’t to my liking but one that you could probably drink neat if you like that sort of thing.

We then moved to the nearest bar where I had a very drinkable Steam Punk gin. This was a good every day drinker, nothing to annoy the senses but lots of subtle botanicals including lavender which is one of my favourite things in drinks. Sue had an Old English which again was really simple and delicious.

IMAG1290

We then headed to the American Gin bar and tried three different gins from St George. Wow. These were mindblowing – gorgeous flavours, fresh scents, transporting you to a different world. The Terroir was my favourite with piney, herbal aromas.

There were a couple of others that passed me by – absolutely fine but nothing of note. Until we discovered Opihr. Pronounced O-peer, this was a spiced, perfumed delight, that evoked memories of the Spice Routes and old Asia. With a splash of ginger ale,this was my absolute favourite drink of the evening. So much so that I bought a bottle. I don’t think it’ll last very long.

Pride of place on our booze tray

There was an amazing stand of vintage gins which sadly weren’t for tasting, but lovely looking bottles.

IMAG1287

And if all that gin became too much, there were hot dogs and fancy pants crisps for eating. And there was a band, but sadly the acoustics in the room made it difficult to hear them unless you stood right in front of them.

Gin and crisps

All told, if you like gin and fancy a relatively inexpensive day out where you can discover new drinks and become a gin bore, this is the event for you. All future events are listed on the website here: http://www.ginfestival.co.uk/events/ and you can follow gin news on Facebook and Twitter.