URBAN BEEKEEPING AND CRAFT BEER TASTING

 

Last weekend the Jetman and I were lucky enough to not only taste test delish London brewed honey beer by Hiver but also get some hands-on experience learning about urban bee keeping – it was bloody amazing and I don’t use that word lightly.

Despite the heat wave I donned denim and trainers and headed over to Kennington park for our 3.30pm start.  The Bee Urban centre is easy to find via google maps and right next to the café in centre of the park. 

At the appointed time we got suited-up and taken around to the hives.  I expected to be more nervous but actually the experience of getting up close and personal with the bees was really relaxing, you need to be chilled and take things slowly – also they’re all zonked from the smoke.  Apparently it’s an instinctive reaction to smelling smoke, they gorge themselves on honey in preparation to move the hive in the instance of fire.  So basically, they’re feeling all mellow and nappish after a big feed.

I can’t tell you how cool it was to hold a plate of brew chambers up close as they’re crawling with a thousand bee’s going about the business of making honey and raising young.  The faint smell of bee’s wax and the humming eddying masses are natures magical kaleidoscope.

Which brings me to the wonders of bee biology.   It turns out that bee biology is astounding, did you know….. the worker bee’s make another Queen if she’s sick/old and not laying well or the hive is getting too big  and they need to split the hive?  They take a normal worker bee (female) larvae and pop it in a special roomy queen cell then feed her royal jelly and vwallah hey presto when she’s cooked 16 days later a queen bee emerges, theeeen the virgin queen takes off and leaves the hive, she flies as high and as fast as she can, being chased by the lazy arse male drone bees (their only job is eat and wait for the queen been to get frisky, which only happens once) so there she is like a big lush trophy that only the fastest drones can win to mate with her.  So the lucky Drones then proceed to shag her until they die,  at which point their peckers fall off inside her, and off they go to bee heaven, job well done.  Queenie mates with about 20 drones and that will keep her going with sperm for up to 5 years, she can lay up to 2000 eggs per day, it only takes her 20 seconds to pop one out.  That’s impressive don’t you think?!  

Anyway, I digress – once queenie has had her shagfest, she goes back to the hive and rests up for a bit, then if the purpose is to take over for an old queen she get’s on with the business of producing young or, she takes off with who ever wants to join her (it’s called a swarm) and they go find a new home.

Another of my favourites bee facts was that the lazy arse drones don’t have it all sweet; they get one free-loading summer then at the end of it the women worker bees kick them out into the cold and seal off the hive so they freeze to death. How terribly pragmatic.

We were super lucky, there happened to be a swarm while were were beer tasting.  There I was concentrating on listening to Seb (our charming tasting guide) when the intense sounds of bee buzz filtered in to my consciousness, our bee keeper then jumped in with jazz hands and told us to look up – there high up in the trees silhouetted by a beautiful blue late afternoon summer sky were thousands of bees swirling in a living pulsating vortex-like mass. It was truly mesmerising. Then just like ‘that’ they were gone again.

It was pretty hot in the bee suits so were all dived in gratefully to the beer tasting.  Naturally this was also fun (swam upstaging aside) we tasted 2 different beers along with the honey used in them, both were soooo different and that coupled with toasted and non toasted barely has me beginning to understand the complexity of craft beer brewing.

Hiver use honey from the hives in Kennington park and around London in there Lager and heather honey for their ale if you’re curious to try it but not into the bee thing I hear Ocado sell it and if you’re in London and want to experience this for yourself or even volunteer to help at Bee Urban in Kennington Park check out the links below.   I have a lot of good days out but this is one I’ll never forget, I can’t recommend the experience highly enough – educational, captivating and fun.

Bee Urban

Laters Navigators. x
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Another May bank holiday is nearly upon us, if you’re bored of doing the same ole same ole, this post is for you.

It’s no secret that London is one of the greatest cities on earth, it’s a melting pot glamour, grit, art, history, culture, architecture…. the list is endless and on any given day you can look at the Time Out website and find loads of gig’s, theater shows, exhibitions and such to see.

So London’s great, amazing and all that jazz, and while I love to do all of the above, I love a bit of off-beat-quirky even more.

Here are my go-to websites when I’m looking for something a little different to do.

Funzing

Great idea – people sharing their passions (not in that way, gutter-mind) anyone can host an event dependent on their hobby, knowledge or talent.  You buy tickets through the website, roll the dice and take a punt.

I’ve had a couple of great evenings so far, the 1st one being a talk about the Sex Myth with the author Rachel Hills, apparently most people think everyone else has a better sex life than themselves.   I also went to a bloggers talk (which was just the inspiration and motivation I needed before starting this blog) and I have just signed up for a Tarot Club night (why not??), I bought a pack years ago and never really learnt how to use them.

On my to-do list is a Loo Tour of London, Graffiti Workshop and an Instagram Photography walk/workshop.  There are hundreds of weird and wonderful pools to dip your toes in to, check Funzing out – you can thank me later.

Obby

This is a recent discovery.  Basically it’s a resource for finding craft/ hobby courses in your area.  In a couple of weeks the Jetman and I are doing a Welding for Artists introduction class.  There are 500+ classes in London and dozens I’d like to try.  Broaden your horizons and check out Obby’s website 

Mail Rail

Opening July 2017

I was on one of those random breadcrumb trails that the internet provides, thinking that it’d be cool to check out some of the disused London tube stations…when I came across this little gem of history.

I had no idea there was a subterranean network of automated trains stretching from Paddington to Whitechapel that kept the capital’s communication network flowing for over 75 years…I may have taken that little blurb from the website. 

Anyhoo, you can ride in glass topped carriages through the well light tunnels and check out  the accompanying exhibition.

Am I really boring  for thinking this is really interesting? I don’t even want to know.

 

If you have anything to add to this meager list, please do share….especially if you’re in southeast Asia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam that’s my latest destination lust.

Have a great weekend,

Laters navigators x

 

Images: When in doubt Graffiti will sort you out.  I didnt have any pics to go with the post so street art’d the shit out of it!  All pics were from a ramble around the Gothic sector of Barcelona.

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Dear lovely people…..So, I thought I’d throw myself off a building – don’t worry it’s for all the right reasons, I’m raising money for St Mungo’s  homeless charity.

Living in London breaks my heart sometimes, I walk past people sitting on the pavement begging for money – I usually don’t carry cash and I don’t know what to say to them.  I try to make eye contact as I say sorry and no, it’s the least I can do, acknowledge them…but it’s not enough.

There’s an urban saying that if you give money to people on the streets it feeds addictions, did some tight person make that up to appease their conscience?  There may be some truth in it, I don’t know, I’m no expert.  So I got to thinking, what can I do? Homelessness is a complex problem that I am ill equipped to tackle…. but I can (probably) abseil down 210 ft from the top of Senate House on Saturday 10th June, and I can raise as much money as possible so the good people at St Mungo’s may continue to support some of our society’s most vulnerable people.

Please donate and give hope to people so much less fortunate than ourselves….and donate for me, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and will be bricking it for charity on June 10th!

I’ve made it easy for you, just click on the link – you can even use paypal

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Abseiling4StMungos

Guilt trip over.

Laters navigators xx

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I seem to have had this reoccurring life-theme of late about not judging books by their covers and this post is yet another example of the rewards you can receive if you just open yourself up to the new.

The company I work for is in the process of developing a partnership with the ‘Leap’ who are an award-winning national youth charity that provides inspirational conflict management training and support to young people and the professionals working with them.

I have to confess, teenagers in general give me the shits, my usual exposure to them is in the form of those obnoxious little F’ers on the bus shouting and palvering while they play music over their phone speakers.  The music is questionable enough but the sound quality out of those speakers, now that is a crime against all things aural.

I realise I come to these views from a place of ignorance and that there are many sweet young people out there, I just don’t come across them in my everyday life.

So when the opportunity to meet the team at Leap, along with some of their young participants came about I had my reservations, especially when one young man stepped in to our offices and immediately got up in my colleagues face demanding a phone charger.  Okaaay.

So, having laid bare my prejudices before you I’m happy to say that within the first few minutes of our meeting my walls began to crumble as I started to see not just a group of youths but individuals with character and shyness and humor and sweet natures with positive futures ahead of them.

The ice breaker was the key, we went around the table to introduce ourselves and along with our names had to share something that not many people knew about us.  So, the mouthy kid at the end of the table became a young man with a fondness for maths and a longing to become an accountant, and that austere woman on reception became less scary because she likes to program dance music in her spare time….you get the picture.

In the end I was really impressed with the young people we met; coming in to a fancy office in the city and meeting oldies from a totally different world than them – they overcame nervousness and supported each other through those mind blank moments with encouragement and kindness.  Yes you could say they’re still a bit rough around the edges (so was I at that age) but I came away with hope in my heart that these select-somebodies were being given the life skills to overcome whatever obstacle life may put in front of them.  I really wish someone had taught me those lessons earlier in life, you cant regret life lessons but if they could’ve come to me a little easier, well, that would’ve been nice.

Last night I attended Leap’s Lighting the Fire 2017 awards event, which was presented and hosted by young people that have been through the program.  they did everything from standing on stage comparing, checking coats, serving canapes and drinks and clearing dishes – and they did themselves proud.

I hadn’t expected it to be an emotional evening but there were several moments of ‘barely keeping it together’ as brave souls shared their story’s and selfless Angels were awarded plaques for their outstanding work.

We all did a brief yet powerful exercise where we paired up and shared which masks we have worn.  It was a lesson in embracing vulnerability.  One lady shared that she’d started a new job  where the previous person had been there for 18 years and for a while she wore the ‘I got this’ mask, the presenters then asked this lady how that affected her job – she said that she was so busy pretending that she knew what she was doing she wasn’t open to advice from her new co-workers and was floundering.  When she finally took off the mask and was able to show a little vulnerability she had more genuine relationships and learnt more about the new role because she didn’t feel threatened and actually listened.  So thought provoking.

Once again I was blown away by the young people I met afterwards as they wandered between groups of business men and women, introducing themselves and telling us little bits about their lives and experiences with the program – I totally struggle with small talk at the best of times so massive kudos to em.

In 2016, Leap held 76 courses which helped 759 young people.  Having witnessed a small demonstration of the course style and met the beneficiaries of Leaps support I cant praise them highly enough for this vital work.

I have been humbled and enlightened.  The seed is now planted and my eyes are open, I’m not sure where it will lead but I know it’s going somewhere.

If you would like to learn more or get involved please see their website here: http://www.leapconfrontingconflict.org.uk/

Laters Navigators. x

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I don’t know about you but anything to do with truffles and a Brass Band and I am all in!

I bought tickets to see Renegade Brass Band so long ago I’d completely forgotten about it, and only happened across the calendar reminder on Friday afternoon. My what a pleasant surprise – I love having a shit memory, it keeps things fresh.

Anyhoo; after a day spent in DIY purgatory sanding the hallway and after one of those showers that feels like its the best one you’ve ever had as it washes the dust, grime and doldrums away, I slapped on a bit of face paint and headed into Shoreditch with the Jetman.

We were on the hunt for a quick bite and I had a hankering for a nice burger but we had to get to the gig so didn’t want to waste time sitting in a restaurant. The food gods were listening and couldn’t have answered my prayers more succinctly. Hello ‘Flat Top Burgers@Block, streetfood court in Shoreditch

My mouth is still watering in memory of that Truffle Burger – think chunky yet soft beef patty (I saw them put the cheese on top of the cooked patty then pop a lid over it after squirting a little water on the grill to add steam), truffle cheese with truffle mayo and truffle glaze in a bap; even the rosemary salt fries were special. I loved the selection of craft beers and was impressed that the Kingpin’s we had were nice and cold.  It was the perfect start to our night.

A 3 minute walk down the road and we were at Richmix (cinema, café arts complex on Bethnal Green Road) in time to catch the last few songs of brass collective, Full Tilt. It’s unkind of me but I couldn’t help wondering if they all met in and American Pie version of bandcamp? They did a great job of warming the audience up; plenty of toes a tapping and dancing happening….though if I’m honest it was only the last half of the last song when they launched into a bit of a brass/drum and bass number that they completely reeled me in.

After a brief interlude it was time for the main act…

Love is a hard thing to describe, it has so many facets that sparkle in different light catching hues, you never know when it’s going to hit you.  I had never seen Renegade Brass band before and had no idea if a hip hop brass band was my thing, I was there on a whim… but as soon as they launched into their first song ‘boom!’ cupids arrow, in your face.

The recipe is perfect: a drummer and percussionist keep things super tight and swinging in the back line, while the scratch DJ is spicing things up on the side, an 8 piece all-star brass section ignites the flames deep in your very soul making you soar and roar and praise the heavens above while the MC throws gasoline on the fire until we were all melting in the pot, smiles splitting our faces as we dissolved.

I honestly haven’t enjoyed a gig that much in ages, superlatives’ aside, these guys are consummate musicians, they make it look easy, its a polished yet laid-back performance with engaging banter between songs, they look like they’re all mates having a great time and everyone’s swept along for the ride.

I love bands that make you lose your shit and leave your cool at the door – I was a sweaty mess by the end, giddy and post-coital-like as I floated out the door.

Now that’s what I call a perfect date night.  I cant recommend it enough.

Laters navigators

 

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