Hodge

I am a bit of a mad cat woman. Although catless right now, I fully expect to meander through my latter years surrounded by sarcastic plotting felines. So you can imagine my pure joy when I found a cat statue just off Fleet Street.

The statue is of Samuel Johnson’s cat Hodge. Although the statue is meant to celebrate Johnsons’ contribution to literature, to me it just goes to show how much a man can love a cat.

To go and see Hodge for yourself, head down to Gough Square.

170 Gin Bottles

Gin has always been my family drink, as soon as summer comes a knocking Dad would start cutting up the lemons. Which is why I was intrigued when a colleague mentioned the City of London Distillery, a distillery and gin bar just off Fleet Street. From the very first sip of their gin and tonic I was hooked, and I’ve been back three times within a week.

As well as having over 170 different types of gin from around the world they (as the name suggests) distill their very own in limited edition, 200 bottle, batches. It is like nothing I have ever tasted before, naturally sweet and with lovely citrus notes. There was only one thing for it really, time for a gin tasting.

First step is to numb the alcohol receptors in the mouth, so take a sip of pure City of London Distillery gin and swirl it round  (this is the only time you can use alcohol to numb the senses and it is considered a good thing). Once your receptors are all happy and numb you will be able to truly taste the botanicals in the next sip. And boy can you taste them, if you focus you might be able to pick out notes of juniper, lemon, pink grapefruit, orange, coriander seeds, angelica root and licorice.

If straight gin is not your poison, the cocktail list is pages long. Or there is an even better way for the indecisive to pick a drink, ask the bartender. The team behind the bar have been expertly trained by the London Bar Consultants and can essentially create the cocktail of your dreams. Given that the 170 gins come in floral, herby, citrus, spicy, strong, woody and navy strength – the expert guidance was much appreciated!

Before my Mum starts worrying about my gin consumption, it was invented by the Dutch as a medicine – to cured the plague (turns out rats don’t like the smell of juniper, and sick people really like alcohol). So technically I am just being really healthy.

I honestly can’t recommend this bar enough. Go, drink gin and try and impress with misremembered Casablanca quotes.

Top tip: the staff are unbelievably eager to share their knowledge, if you have a moment go and ask for a tasting and learn the globe-trotting history of this family drink.

Oh and if you head down in a couple of weeks they are going to be serving food – each dish designed around the botanical notes in the gin…amazeballz.

Poster Archive

I was overjoyed when I heard about the new art tours offered by the London Transport Museum.

History Lesson: Over the last 100 years or so, the London Underground has been a powerful patron of the arts. It commissioned art from both students and established artists, which were then made into posters to grace the walls of the tube.

Some of these posters were blatant advertising (like the astoundingly un PC poster from 1915 below), but most used a more subtle approach. Ever see underground posters telling you about the exciting London nightlife? The latest West End shows? The food, festivals and bright sparkling lights? They don’t actually care about your cultural well being – they are just trying to stagger out rush-hour. Not kidding, for the last 100 years London Underground has been trying to convince passengers to stay in London after work – just so the tube doesn’t get clogged up.

The Tour: The tour is run four times a year out at the MASSIVE London Transport depot in Acton. For £10 you get a 75 minute tour of their poster archive (they have a copy of every single poster since the start of the company, thats over 7,000 posters!) as well as getting a chance to see some of the original artwork up close.

You don’t get to riffle through the collection yourself (the draws are locked for obvious reasons), but they have a selected few on the walls for you. Still a brilliant chance to see these rare posters and learn a bit about the history.

Highlight: Seeing a copy of the Man Ray poster from 1938 – worth over £100,000.

P.s. I discovered this gem in the Ian Visits email a couple of weeks ago – if you haven’t yet signed up, what are you waiting for?

TFL Poster 1915

Cardiff Castle

With a couple of hours before my train I had two options, visiting the Cardiff Art Gallery or going to Cardiff Castle. Like an absolute rookie I chose the castle.

Quite honestly I just was not in the mood. I was full of the cold and on a post Doctor Who come down – and to add to the disenchantment the castle is largely outside and it was raining.

So overall not the best of visits.

**UPDATE** Turns out I could have used my National Art Pass and got in for free, so not only did I have a disappointing time but I effectively burned £11 in doing so.

But at least they had some fantastic ceilings in the bedrooms.

DSC03258

Oh and before I forget, this is the visitors note I found in the army museum within the castle. I seriously hope they are joking, either that or it must be a very unhappy/one-sided/militaristic relationship.

Cardiff Castle