About Life

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A View From The Top — May 28, 2016

A View From The Top

Today was fun. It was my son’s 11th birthday yesterday and to celebrate he wanted to take a trip to London. The trip included a visit to Up At The O2 and also to The Shard.

Now I’m far from a fan of heights and he ‘selected’ me to accompany him over the O2. We checked in at the appointed time and after watching a short safety video we put on special shoes and safety harnesses. 

A final safety check, a couple of flights of stairs, the obligatory pose for the souvenir photograph, one final safety briefing and we were off.


Harnessed to a wire all of the time, our guide Sofia was friendly and knowledgeable. She was also reassuring as there was a slight wobble from our group as we started our ascent up the trampoline-like walkway. It really was the strangest of feelings as we bounced our way up one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

20 minutes later and we arrived at the top for some pretty stunning views.


The descent was just as thrilling as this time we bounced our way face down to the end and the compulsory exit via the gift shop. Although that being said the gift shop was very reasonably priced for a London attraction.


A short tube journey brought us to the next destination on the magical vertical tour, The Shard.

Two (very) quick lifts had us on the 68th floor in less than 2 minutes of walking through the airport-style security. It was a hazy day but even so the views from up here were magnificent. 


A couple of flights of stairs and we were (kind of) outside at the highest point that you can visit as a paying member of the public (only the window cleaners can go higher).


So, a day conquering my fears and one which my son thoroughly enjoyed and will give him many talking points with his friends. 

Tickets for Up At The O2 are available here and for The View from The Shard here. One point to note, children go free at The Shard during May 2016 half term.

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On A Whim — May 24, 2016

On A Whim

A few weeks back, on a bit of a whim, I bought a ticket to the Copenhagen Beer Celebration. Thinking Copenhagen was actually closer than it was, the ticket purchase was followed by hurried bookings of trains, hotels and flights (apparently you can’t get the
Eurostar to Copenhagen – who knew?!?).

The day arrived and before I knew it the plane was touching down on Danish soil. After a short walk through the terminal I had managed to work out how to buy a train ticket and was sat on a train waiting to depart for the town centre.

I’m always amazed by public transport in other countries, trains in particular are practical and spacious, not to mention they seem to run on time! It took just 10 minutes from the airport to the town centre and upon exiting the station my sense of direction immediately let me down. Course corrected I headed off through the Copenhagen suburbs to find my Air B&B apartment (another first for me).

Greetings exchanged and bags dropped dropped off, google maps was put to use again to assist me in heading for my first port of call – Warpigs.

Warpigs is a brew pub jointly owned by Mikkeller & Three Flloyds. I arrived while the morning session at CBC was still in full flow so it was relatively empty. Beers purchased (a session IPA to quench the thirst and a sour IPA to quash it) I sat taking in the music (metal) and atmosphere of the place. It wasn’t long before I ran into the 3 Andy’s and even less time until Andy #1 placed a DIPA in my hands (at this point it was about 2pm in the afternoon, things has ‘messy’ written all over them). A couple more in Warpigs and then we headed off to join the queue to get into the ‘blue’ CBC session.

The queue itself, whilst daunting, took about 5 mins to clear and with minuscule glass in hand I was once again led astray by Andy #1 who was determined that my first beers of the festival were to be the Boneyard DIPA & TIPA. By all accounts I loved them…

To be honest, the rest of the session at CBC was a blur after this point, there were some UK beers, some other beers, a hotdog and a failed attempt to get a tattoo (they were fully booked). We ran into some Irish lads and the next thing I knew I was waking up in my apartment (impressed at how I had managed to navigate my way back there).

Realising it was still early, I got in touch with Andy #1 and plans were made for the evening. More navigation (cheers Google) and I made it to Fermentoren and joined the (very orderly) queue for the bar. Many beers were enjoyed with many good beer folk throughout the evening, and once again I managed to find my way back to the apartment.

Awaking early on the Saturday morning, my plan was to take in some of the city and do some of the touristy things. After breakfast. I was craving bacon, and thought I’d find it fairly easily in Denmark. Following breakfast in McDonald’s (!?!) I tried my best to work out the local transport and heading out on a train to Østerport to take in some of the tourist destinations. Heading down to the waterfront to see the little mermaid first, I then took a leisurely stroll along the waterfront heading back to the town centre.

Compared to the likes of say, London, everything was chilled and relaxed and I chose a waterfront cafe to pause at to enjoy a pot of coffee.

There seems to be a completely different culture to travel in Copenhagen. A lot of people were on bikes with their on dedicated roadways and even dedicated spaces on the train network for them. There also seemed to be a culture of using anyone’s bike as long as it’s not been padlocked. Says a lot for their approach to being generally more active when the local sports centre had more bikes than the eye could see and a climbing wall outside.

Finishing my walk back towards the station, I decided to finish my time in Copenhagen with a visit to one of the Mikkeller bars (one of the reasons I was there after all). Choosing the one closest to the station I was soon sat enjoying a Vesterbro Wit watching a sleepy Copenhagen come to life.


“This is the calm before the storm” one of the barmen told a punter “it’ll go nuts in here from about 2” (which is when the CBC morning session kicked out) – looks like I timed my visit just right. Just time for a Spontandryhop Citra and a Beer Geek Cocoa Shake before I headed back to the airport.

One thing I’m always embarrassed by when I go abroad is my lack of skills in a foreign language, and the ease at which other nations are able to switch to English. The girl at the till in the restaurant at the airport clearly knew I wasn’t understanding a word of her Danish but very easily switched to the most perfect English to serve me.

A short flight home, and within two hours of landing I was back on more familiar soil enjoying pints of cask beer at The Alehouse in Chelmsford with friends. But that’s a story for another day…