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In Disney you spend a significant amount of time in queues. You queue for security, you queue for the monorail, you queue to get in, you queue for Starbucks and then of course there are the rides. I have been in the UK now for 6 years, so I am totally ok with queuing – in fact if you are British then I personally think Disney is the queue lover’s ideal vacation. You can spend hours happily sandwiched between other people as you slowly inch forward. The reason I mention the endless standing in line is because it allowed for a lot of people watching, and some rather through observational research into what the best age is to take your kids to Disney World. It is a tough one, Disney is an expensive ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday, so you absolutely want to make sure your kids will enjoy it, but what oh what is this magical ideal age?

It’s 29.

Let me break it down for you.

New-born: Yes we saw a lot of new-borns at Disney. I am rather judgey Mc judgey on this point, because I just can’t get on board with a new-born being in direct sunlight in a queue for two hours in all the noise and chaos of Disney. I get that if you book a holiday 11 months ago and then have a surprise baby that you don’t want to waste all the money. But maybe go to the parks in the morning and afternoon when it’s cooler and less crowded? Or if you are going to be there all day take some sort of sun shade for the micro human. Anyway, new-borns are lame to take to Disney because they can’t do most of the rides and they don’t even eat churros yet.

Toddler: Toddlers at Disney might be the funniest thing in the world. They don’t give two flying Flounders about the judgement of others AND have zero logic. Throwing a tantrum in the middle of crowded Fantasy Land because you met Rapunzel after you had asked to see Rapunzel? Totally cool in the mind of a toddler. And don’t get me started on their lack of spacial awareness. Dad managed to push three over in a row as they wandered into his path (we were rushing to join the Avatar queue, there was no time for dodging mini-humans). But for the parents dealing with these snotty sugar covered monsters? I have never seen parents so desperately stressed. After all the money they paid the kid is more interested in the $12 bubble machine than any Disney provided fun.

Children (generic ages): I believe children are the short humans that are older than a toddler but younger than the ones with a swoopy fringe. They seem to understand the magic of Disney a little more, but just don’t have the stamina for it. I can’t even count the number of ‘final warnings’ that I heard parents dishing out.

Teenagers: Much like the toddler category, teenagers are hilarious at Disney as long as you are not responsible for them. There is nothing like the face of a teenager trying to be moody while on the Whinny the Pooh ride. Or like the photos of the entire family with the Fairy Godmother as the teenager folders their arms and glares at the camera imitating their future mugshot. Beautiful, but not ideal.

29: This is the best age. I will fight you on it. At 29 you are old enough to be able to stand in the queues all day long (I only threw a tantrum once in the line and made Dad go and buy me popcorn), you can march at adult speed to get from Space Mountain to Splash Mountain while the queue time is only 45 minutes and, the best thing, YOU CAN DRINK. When Epcot all got a little too much? We had margaritas in the Mexico pavilion. I mean, I still made my parents order and pay for them (I’m still their responsibility after all) but it was a chilled out afternoon of drinking and rides that parents with any other aged children just don’t get to experience. And side bonus, at 29 your child is old enough to be in charge of The Map and help with the planning.

Seriously, if you are the parents of a 29 year old, or a 29 year old yourself, then it is time to book a stress free trip to Disney World. You will build memories that you will take with you throughout your 30’s and bring magic back into the dreary adult existing.

Sherlock and Watson are in a pub. Sherlock arrived late because he got distracted by some eyeballs on the Jubilee Line. When Sherlock finally arrived he saw that Watson was drinking whisky on the rocks and had four empty glasses sitting next to him. Not wanting to be shown up, Sherlock orders five of the same and necks them in under a minute. All of the drinks that Sherlock and Watson had that night were poisoned, but only Watson was to die that night. How come Sherlock survived? All of the drinks were poisoned, all in the same way.

I love a good riddle don’t you? I managed to solve the one you just read while standing out of breath in a side street just off Covent Garden as I held an iPad in one hand and a lollipop in the other. What can I say, I’m great at multi-tasking. This entire escapade was a result of a murder mystery night run by Mega Bus – yes that Mega Bus.

On a freezing Thursday night (just before I was meant to hop on a plane to Florida) I found myself with a team of five other women running from Westminster, to Trafalgar square to Covent Garden to try and solve Moriarty’s devilish plot – I think he had gotten his hands on some weapons of mass destruction? Or maybe he had just spoken to someone on the tube…same same. I didn’t have high hopes for my team after they all got lost on the straight line from the Tube to the starting point. But turns out we were the dream team, who were destined to go on to win the entire shindig and head home with champagne – oh and I also stole a hat.

I hadn’t done a murder mystery event like this one before. As a team you had an iPad with three different types of challenges to complete. Some were pictures of statues or blue plaque, and when you reached the icon the answer to your clue would be within a meter of the statue. The next puzzle type was finding characters in secret locations and ‘interviewing’ them. That worked out well until the robber, who just quite simply ran away. The rest of my team took off in hot pursuit, but I only run for doughnuts. The last challenge was finding evidence along the way, such as a monocle or evidence of a dog – let’s just say we had to use our imaginations for some of those.

Back to me stealing the hat, a moment I shall forever refer to as my finest hour. One of the pieces of evidence we needed to collect was a deerstalker hat. Obviously we were not going to find one of those on the streets of London on a Thursday evening, so we were hoping to come up with something pun based to use instead. Keen detectives among you will have clicked that I mentioned meeting characters earlier, and yes of them was wearing a deerstalker as shown in the photo below. The actor was well practiced, and kept a firm grip on his hat at all times so no scheming teams could get a hold of it.

Enter a curly haired kiwi hyped up on sugar and hypothermia. When we were back on the Mega Bus driving back to the drop off point I waited till the actor was taking a photo for another group. Then I snuck (yes, imagine proper cartoon sneaking) up the isle of the bus and with lightning reflexes grabbed the deerstalker and hightailed it back to my team – victorious.

Anyway, it was a really fun night full of hijinks and problem solving, like an escape room if Central London was the room. Thanks for having me Mega Bus – I will try not to steal things next time.

Oh, and the drinks? The poison was in the ice.

It snowed in London last week, did anyone tell you? There was the initial sparkling magic, then the commuter panic and now the recriminations about why weren’t better prepared. Just the normal British weather cycle really. In the midst of it all I was scheduled to go to a snow themed event that had been in my calendar for a month – I’m not saying that the event manager caused the polar vortex but it is suspicious.

The event, put on by The Post Office, had an interesting premise. We’ve all heard of après ski and dreamed of the glamorous fondu based life on top of the mountain and then in the middle of the mountain, and then at the bottom of the mountain? Well, those skiing numptys are invalidating their insurance – you can’t drink then ski. And not only that, but the alcohol is more likely to put them in a position that they need said insurance. In essence, they are about to get a short sharp shaft up the polar vortex.

On this cold Wednesday evening we set out to prove the hypothesis. At the start of the event (aka sober) we hopped on a virtual reality skiing game and got a score. Then FOR SCIENCE we had some gin cocktails and at the end we needed to do the simulator again to see how much alcohol had impaired our performance.

First problem: I had gin before I got there because it was snowing and I like gin
Second problem: on my first run I killed a deer on accident and then got scared and crashed into a rock
Third problem: I am genetically proven to handle alcohol excellently (I will post about this at some point)

I sat down and drank some (many) hot gin cocktails (holy vortex these were good) because science told me to. At some point I got involved in a skiing based board game that my new friend Ashley promised was “just like snakes and ladders”. No, it was a hellfire with four pages of instructions where nothing made sense and there was a 12 sided dice. I acquired more gin, a snowmobile, made it up a chairlift and then couldn’t get down a black run and Ashley ended up winning. I have no idea what happened.

Before it was time to transition from the fake snow back into the real blizzard, I needed to have my second run on the ski simulator. If you remember, on my first run I killed a deer (not ideal), and by this point in the evening I was relaxed and full of both gin and righteous board game anger. My second run was a dream, a literal dream. On the original I scored 19,607 but on this second run I scored 33,655. So, is the theory incorrect? Do you ski better when drunk? Yeah, no. Promptly after my dream virtual reality run I fell off a chair. So, lets listen to the experts on this one and don’t drink and ski – it will invalidate your insurance.

I love a niche museum. The high point for me had to be the Paris Sewers Museum, just down the road from the Musee de L’Orangerie – yes I recommend it, and no I would not have gone if Dad had not taken me there on the false pretence of getting coffee. Anyway, talking niche museums, the Postal Museum opened in Clerkenwell mid last year and it has been on my list to visit since I saw an ad for it on the tube. What caught my eye, what made me choose this museum to fantasise about above all others, was its newly refurbished postal train.

You read that right. London used to have a tube network running beneath the streets just for the post. It was created when the streets began to fill up with traffic back in the day and keeping to a regular timed route became impossible. To solve the problem they created mini-tube carriages (like ¼ the size of the normal tube) that had sacks of letters hauled onto them, the trains travelled around this fair city making sure the words found their homes.

The reason I took quite so long to get to the Postal Museum is because that darling Postal Train had sold out for bloody months. I had to wait for a spontaneous bright and freezing Thursday in January to be able to secure a coveted seat.

The museum space proper is across the road from the train part, it is unbelievably cute and kids (or you know, millennials with a child’s heart) will love it. It’s interactive and full of fun facts about how the postal service shaped the nation. And it has some working pneumatic tubes that you can use to send anonymous notes to the other side of museum – I will let you guess what I wrote on mine (a risky move since I was the youngest in the museum by about 50 years).

When you head to across the road to THE TRAIN you get some more fun interactive post games, including my favourite where you have to maintain your balance on a moving train carriage simulator and put letters in the right slots. It’s a cool museum.

But ONTO THE POST TRAIN. I had an unfortunate wait when it came to my timeslot (all rides have a specific time, you can’t just hop on), one of the two trains had broken down and there was a delay of half an hour. No, not ironic at all. I eventually managed to hop on the TINY TRAIN (they are not designed for passengers, only mail was meant to travel on them) and begin my 15 minute journey.

It is amazing to see the real life tubes that the mail travelled down for so many years, and hear the history of the men that worked the mail train. They have some interactive displays that are a nice touch and then before you can blink you are back to the start.

I really enjoyed my time at the museum and the mail train ride (excluding the 30 minute delay which was a Royal pain), however it is the price that I quibble with. I don’t doubt that it costs a pretty penny to restore and maintain the train, and the museum is world class – however we are in a city of free museums. I think £17 is a lot for the train ride, and for the price I don’t think I would do it again (or have done it in the first place). Check out the website and make your own mind up, it is a really interesting way of looking at history in any case. And besides, stamps are cool.

Team, I have a bit of an internal struggle going on. The result of which is a quiet as quiet blog for the last few weeks. I thought I would share my thought process and crowd source some ideas from y’all because, well, a problem shared is a problem halved or something like that. Partly the blog has been quiet because I have declared 2018 as the ‘Year of Happy’, it’s the year of me doing dumb stupid stuff that makes me happy. So far this has included comedy shows, Disney World (!), dating, the Postal Museum, Netflix binges and of course endless coffee. Essentially I am being a selfish ratbag this year, and if I’m not in the mood to write, I don’t write (this is a distinct difference to last year when I couldn’t write because I was stressed to the gills and working all the hours under the sun, this is a good not writing). But the Year of Happy is not the biggest reason for not posting, the big reason is that I’m worried about the noise.

I have read a few articles recently (like this long read one CLICK HERE) all about our use of social media, and I extend that to how we write and promote blog posts as well. In all my reading about the current state of the internet the thing that most worries me is what algorithms are doing to our brains, aka the noise.

Algorithms are by face value quite nice things, the more you engage with a post the more you will be shown posts like it. The algorithms learn what you like and show you what they think you want to see, by this point all I should have on my walls is dogs wearing sunglasses. With all the content available on the internet a bit of curation is needed to stop us feeling overwhelmed, algorithms should be our friend. The problem is that content makers have cottoned on to this, in order to get content seen on Facebook or any algorithm based network the blog posts, captions and photos they create are black and white. Essentially this means instead of seeing content about Brexit that quietly weighs the pros and cons and lets you find your own opinion, all you get is ITS THE BEST or ITS THE WORST because that is what you will like, share and read.

What this does to your brain (or my brain at the very least) is that it constantly feels like the end of the world. Every time I log online it is us or them. Best or worst. Yes or no. For me (before I cottoned on) it was like living on a knife edge, the algorithms had turned me into a quibbling mess feeling like a punch was coming at any moment.

Side note: I’m not saying we should have centralist/moderate views on everything i.e. for me race and women’s rights are all or nothing topics. It’s more that the relentless stream of information is artificially creating a ‘pick a side’ argument on ALL issues – the truth when it comes to humans is usually grey and somewhere in the middle.

Anyway, back to blogging, it’s not just politics and equality issues that are playing the algorithm game, us bloggers do it to. How many blog posts do you see about ‘the best things to see in Paris’, ‘the cafes in London you can’t miss’, ‘the four things you have to do on a long haul flight’. I am guilty of all of these, because best or worst is what performs well in terms of clicks and views – I am feeding the machine. But what about the audience, you dear readers? When I look at those titles in the cold light of day (I’m actually writing this in a Disney ride queue and it’s warm and dark, but whatever) I think they cause the exact same problem as I talked about before.

The posts may be informative or funny (hopefully both) but they just add to the noise of what you ‘have to do/buy/think’. And if you don’t or can’t or haven’t then what? In an effort to get more readers I have essentially made you feel like a failure for not doing the thing.

No shade on other bloggers here, I know that to appear on google you have to write your posts and titles in a SEO friendly way. And if you are a full time blogger, getting those views can be the difference between paying rent or not. But for me, sitting in the luxury spot where this is a hobby not a job? I need to change the way I approach it. It’s all subtle changes, but I don’t want to trick anyone else’s brain into a ‘have to’, ‘need to’, ‘best or worst’ spiral.

I’m still me, and I will still write whatever takes my fancy, but you may notice I stop with the click bait and that my posts are less aggressively bloggy. Read it or not, it’s up to you. I just want to get back to enjoying writing for writings sake, and not feeling like I’m contributing to the noise.