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.

I killed five succulents last year, yes those ‘impossible to kill’ succulents. I can be accused both of over loving, under loving and accidentally giving one gin…if they were children I would be locked up. But since they are plants I can just ashamedly put them in the bin and head to my local market for more. There is no register for serial succulent killers.

Quite why Lex and Aaron decided to ask me to plant sit while they were in Japan is beyond me. It is possible they didn’t know about the succulent massacre of 2017, but they have been in my flat enough times to see the ever revolving door of small green things, so they must have had an inkling. Despite their possible misgivings they left me in sole charge of Felicity the house plant for almost a month.

It all started off so fine. I watered Felicity the required amount every few days while whispering mantras of empowerment into her spiky leaves. I positioned her as close to the window as possible so that the weak winter sun could bring her joy. I even left audiobooks playing while I was at work, I know Lex and Aaron would want their little plant entertained (she really liked hearing about Stephen Fry’s adventures with cocaine in the 80’s).

But then a week ago, something weird started to happen. One day I bumped into Felicity as I was getting ready in the morning. She had been sitting near the window as per usual, but when I rounded the corner to go and put my makeup on she seemed to be a little further out from the wall than when I left her, causing me to jostle her as I went by. I didn’t think much of it, I put it down to the usual pre-coffee clumsiness. Oh how wrong I was, I wish I had known what was to befall me.

A couple of days later I was sitting at my computer, much as I am now (although I wasn’t shaking, heart racing in panic as I am now). I saw an airplane flying past my window and I started thinking about my upcoming trip to Florida with my parents. I was all excited thinking of the sunshine and laughter, when I glanced to my right and saw Felicity – staring right at me.

She won’t stop. Like a Weeping Angel, Felicity haunts me. Its fine when I’m at work and she can’t get me, but when I am back in my flat I can feel her watching. I never see her move, but she is always in a different spot every time I turn around. Could Felicity know about the succulents? Is she here to get retribution?

I don’t know what to do, I fear there are not many places to hide from a vengeful flamingo in a studio flat. Oh god, I can see her in the hallway now. Felicity is coming for me.

Lex, Aaron, what have you done?