OK, it’s not food, but it’s just as tasty to the eye. This magnificent cherry blossom tree is in the garden at my sons’ primary school. It was rather windy last night – and the effect is spectacular.
Theme parks don’t do it for me. I’m a wuss, see. Prone to dizziness and screaming. Not a good look for a man approaching his 50th year. The last time I took my kids on an ‘adventure park’ ride was when the fair came to town. I went on the Spinning Teacups with my youngest son – and promptly begged the sadistic ride owner to stop before I threw up. Oh, how proud my children were.
But my 11-year-old stepdaughter Daisy is made of different stuff. The
wrong right stuff. The higher the better, the faster the better, the more perilous the better, the more terror-inducing the better. If there was a rocket blasting off for Mars any time soon, she’d be at the front of the queue.
Thankfully for her, her dad’s side of the family feel the same excitement when presented with the opportunity to seek thrills – which they do on a regular basis. And Thorpe Park near Chertsey, in Surrey, is one of their favourite destinations. As Daisy said to me the other evening: ‘I’d live there if I could.’
Which brings me to the subject of this (non-sponsored) post. The very lovely fellow blogger Helen aka Actually Mummy got in touch to tell me about a 2-for-1 offer going at Thorpe Park and wondered if my readers would be interested.
Well, even if you’re not, I certainly know a girl who is. And her name begins with D.
But first, here’s what she thinks of the place…
“Thorpe Park is not just like any other theme park. It stands out because of its amazing rides and attractions. In this review I will be sharing with you a few of the rides and the ones to go for.
We arrived at Thorpe Park at around ten o’clock, it was not too busy. We went and queued for the rides. The waiting time was not too long and soon we were whizzing around and upside down. The rides were super fun and I enjoyed all of it!
Tidal Wave- The ultimate log flume.
Is one of the wettest rides ever but one of the best. You go up and up and up and just when you think you can’t go up any more you turn and shoot straight down into water, lots of water. For a few seconds, everything around you looks like a water kingdom as it pours down on you. You will get wet! This one was awesome!
Detonator- Countdown to terror.
This isn’t a lookout tower so you’d better savour the jaw dropping views before you plummet at 45mph back to the ground!
Zodiac- Are you ready to go for a spin with a difference?
This ride is one of my personal favourites as it makes you feel a disorientated sensation like no other as you spin into the air, upside down, and then plummet to the ground! Which way is up and which way is down?
Rush- Think swings are for kids? Think again!
A massive swing swoops in to action as all you playground nightmares take control. When you talk about extreme rides, Rush is as thrilling as it gets!
Storm Surge-Spin into action.
I love this ride and highly recommend it. You don’t get too wet but you will get quite soggy. You go quite high in a big rubber ring and then spiral out of control! (Getting a little wet along the way!)
All of these rides are spectacular and great thrills especially rush but the rollercoasters are even more popular so lets see………………….(unfortunately, I have hardly been on any of these fantastic thrills, but I hope to soon!)
• The Swarm- The UK’s first winged rollercoaster.
• Stealth- Personally I believe this is the scariest ride, and even though I have not been on it you can tell by just by looking. 0-80mph to 205ft in under 2 seconds. Wow!
• Nemesis Inferno- A red hot, fiery ride. Upside down!!
• Slammer- Get slammed on a human sky swat!
• Vortex- Lose your mind on a crazy psycho swing!
Convinced? Personally, I would rather hide in my local pub, but if Thorpe Park sounds like your children’s idea of Heaven, there’s no need to pay full-price. Here’s how you can get some discounts…
For more information visit thorpepark.com.
I have just had the best restaurant steak I have ever eaten. I have just received the best service I’ve ever encountered. I have just experienced sophistication combined with intimacy, with a soupcon of macho bravado. I have also got one of the worst red wine hangovers I’ve ever suffered.
M.A.S.H: Mission. Accomplished. Shakes. Hands.
Which just happens to be the same acronym for the restaurant where I had that best-ever steak experience.
Located in the bowels of Soho’s Brewer Street, M.A.S.H. is a Danish import – and it really brought home the bacon. I don’t need to rave on about it because my companions do a much better job than I could do, below.
But I just wanted to say something about that ‘best-ever steak’. The cut was sirloin; the breed, unfortunately, unspecified, but it came from a Danish farm; but its dry-ageing was what made it a cut above any other steak I’ve ever had – a full 70 days. This gave it a deep, almost gamey, taste, with a texture of velvet. It makes me salivate just thinking about it.
I’ll give my own scores at the end of this post, but first, over to the Dads…
Venue : A perfect blend of upmarket American diner style red leather booths and opulent art deco trimmings. It’s a cavernous place but in a good way. A huge horseshoe shaped bar at the entrance was a great way to start the experience especially as it’s right next to the glass fronted meat locker where hunks of ageing beef hang. if you weren’t in a booth- and we weren’t- the huge round tables for four had oodles of space between them. 9/10
Atmosphere A really buzzy atmosphere and it felt special, but relaxing and informal at the same time. Although it was a Thursday night it was by no means full, but because it is cleverly sectioned and partitioned, it still managed to have an air of intimacy about it. 8/10
Food – We had the snails, the calamari and the Sweetbread from a good selection of starters all priced at £10 and perfectly decent but not overly memorable. The steaks however were fabulous. We chose four different cuts including the Australian Wagyu at £50 for 200gr and not as epic as the Japanese variety but mighty fine all the same, and the 70 day aged Danish Ribeye which was extraordinary. Full of intense flavour and supremely tender. A perfectly acceptable cheese platter followed. 8.5/10
Service – Exemplary from start to finish. Charming, witty and well informed staff who seemed genuinely enthusiastic. Our sommelier Lisa from Connecticut did her charming best, with no hint of snobbery on her part, to up-sell us to her rather expensive choice of red, but we stood firm and tried our own selection at the lower end of the cost spectrum which were all very drinkable in their own way and sub £30. Difficult to find any fault, so I won’t do a Craig Revel Horwood but will award it my first 10/10.
VFM- It’s central London, so it’s never going to be cheap. You don’t have a choice with the starter prices as they are all £10 which if you went for Asparagus soup I would say was a tad expensive, but it was our choice to have Wagyu and 70 day aged Ribeye included for the main. £10 for a cheese board is also expensive considering there’s little skill in plating 3 well chosen triangles, but it’s still the norm in London. So in pure pounds and pence terms the price was a little on the high side and we did bust our Dads’ Dinner Club £100 per head limit, but that was our fault for having a total of 6 bottles of wine and a glass of 1966 Madeira each. Ultimately, you get what you pay for and VFM has to really be judged on the sum of the above parts so. 9/10
Venue: When I heard we were going to another steak restaurant, I felt it was a bit of a cop-out as we’d been there with Hawksmore, done that with Tramshed, etc etc. When I then walked in to the place and realised I had been there in a former life when it was the nightclub, Titanic, I had that sinking feeling. How wrong I was though as although actually of Danish origins, the space has now been transformed in to the very stylish, Art Deco inspired Modern American Steak House. 8/10
Atmosphere: The layout is superb and although there is potentially too much space between the tables, it manages to remain intimate. 8/10
Food: I was prepared to stake a wager that this would be a disappointment like Tramshed. But unlike Tramshed, what MASH seems to have grasped is that if you are going to entice customers in to eat steak, then that steak better be damn good. We ordered and shared their four recommended ‘house’ cuts and each one was nothing short of sensational. Starters and deserts were academic really. 9/10
Service: It is a pleasure to be served with wit and charm by very knowledgeable staff and it completed the experience. 10/10
VFM: It was expensive for sure, but that’s mainly because as a group our self imposed spending limit goes completely out the window after the fourth bottle of wine! And what price can you put on a superb night out with old friends anyway. 10/10.
Venue – Vast, dark but not scary. Displays of their huge cuts of meat proudly on display, front and centre and an even more impressive display of Wines. Tables well spaced apart. 9/10
Atmosphere – Friendly, fairly relaxed and classy. 8/10
Food– The Steaks were some of the best I’ve ever had, especially the 70 day dry-aged Danish cuts. Nothing special about the sides but nothing wrong with them either. A special mention goes to the extensive Bourbon selection and a good, fairly reasonably priced wine list. 9.5/10
Service– Excellent service from the moment I arrived. The Barman knew everything about the bourbons I was interested in and was attentive and friendly. The meat on display was explained to us by an extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic and pretty young lady, she suggested we try a selection that would be cut for us at our table, something that was ‘off-menu’. We wanted for nothing. 9.5/10
VFM – A pretty hefty bill at the end of the evening but we didn’t really hold back on the wine. My journey home ended up being almost as expensive! I will definitely return… 9/10
Venue – 9
Atmosphere – 9
Food – 10
Service – 10
VFM – 9
TOTAL AVERAGE SCORE OUT OF 10 – 9.075
As with most developments in modern life, I had never heard of Kickstarter until a friend’s son told me about it the other day.
It’s apparently an American website where artists and inventors can ask, Dragons’ Den style, for financial backing from investors. But you don’t need bags of wonga to invest – just £1 is enough to get the ball
kicked rolling. There’s even a cool name for it: ‘crowdfunding’.
And it is now doing big business in Britain, having helped kickstart (see what they’ve done there) new businesses ranging from a mobile tea shop to a bag seller to an ostrich pillow.
Well, instead of being behind-the-trend, for once, I am going to be ahead of it and I have sunk some of my hard-earned cash into the talent of one Rufus Dye-Montefiore. OK, it’s not a lot, and will barely cover the price of some plasticine for his short animated film, Something Mouldy, but it’s a (kick) start.
The point here is Rufus is at college. He’s skint. But instead of sitting on his backside, he’s trying to make a go of it.
And one day, when he is very rich and very famous he will remember me and the enormous leg-up I gave him to realise his dreams to be the next Aardman Animations or Pixar or whoever and he will buy me a nice little restaurant in the south of France where I can live out the rest of my life cooking cassoulet for the locals. Not that I didn’t just ‘invest’ in him out of sheer altruism or nuffink!
Check out Rufus’s work here. It’s good. Very good.
And his Kickstarter page, right here.