I like to set myself yearly challenges.

This year I’m mostly doing things linked to the number 28.
The year before, it was 27. The year before that it was 26. With 25, 24, 23 and 22 before that….


CHALLENGE 28


28 Herbs and spices

This next year is going to be a bit of a rollercoaster, and keeping myself exploring is going to be harder than ever. So here’s one I plan on doing at home… Cooking with 28 different herbs and spices, in an effort to train my tastebuds.

  1. Hyssop
  2. Chives
  3. Dill
  4. Chervil
  5. Borage
  6. Camomile
  7. Fat hen
  8. Coriander
  9. Lemongrass
  10. Cardoon
  11. Bay
  12. Mint
  13. Basil
  14. Oregano
  15. Parsley
  16. Rosemary
  17. Sorrel
  18. Sage
  19. Thyme
  20. Tarragon
  21. Mugwort
  22. Alecost
  23. Orach
  24. Miner’s Lettuce
  25. Lemon Verbena
  26. Heartease
  27. Summer Savory
  28. Sweet majoram

28 Great works of art

I’m planning on hunting out 28 masterpieces over the next year, to try and improve my knowledge of the history of art. Some will be famous, some will be chosen because they speak to me.

  1. The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Michelangelo
  2. Ognissanti Madonna, Giotto
  3. The Birth of Venus, Botticelli
  4. David, Michelangelo
  5. The Inspiration of St Matthew, Caravaggio
  6. Dance (I), Matisse
  7. Broadway Boogie Woogie, Mondrian
  8. The Persistence of Memory, Dali
  9. The Vision of St John, El Greco
  10. Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, Monet
  11. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Picasso
  12. The Starry Night, Van Gogh
  13. The Dream, Rosseau
  14. The Lovers, Magritte
  15. Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, Vermeer
  16. Campbell’s Soup Cans, Warhol
  17. Peace – Burial at Sea, JMW Turner
  18. Ophelia, John Everett Millais
  19. Pelagos, Barbara Hepworth

28 Roald Dahl books

I’ve been a lifelong fan of Roald Dahl, but its been years and years since I read one of his books. I’m planning on digging out both his adult collection and his children collection, and working my way through his catalogue.

  1. Madness, Collected Stories
  2. Lust, Collected Stories

CHALLENGE 27 (COMPLETE)


Building highlights of London

I’ve recently read Nairn’s London: a punchy and unapologetic view on the architecture of London in the 1960s. It’s a book of emotion over theory – in Ian Nairn’s own words, “a record of what has moved me between Uxbridge and Dagenham”. Full of sharp, pithy reviews, it showcases all of London’s highlights, including churches, markets, pubs, cinemas and stations.
This year will probably be the last I live in central London. So I’m going to tick off 27 of Nairn’s city highlights. And then construct my own record of 27 buildings, that have moved me between Uxbridge and Dagenham.

27 Nairn’s London Highlights

  1. French Ordinary Court
  2. St James Palace
  3. Red Lion, Duke of York St
  4. The Economist Building
  5. Law Courts, Strand
  6. All Saints, Margaret St
  7. Long bar, Henekeys, Holborn
  8. Soane Museum
  9. Chiswick House
  10. Shepperton Village Square
  11. St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, West Ferry Rd
  12. The Gun, Coldharbour
  13. Spiegelhalters, Mile End Rd
  14. St Barnabas, Shacklewell Ln
  15. Cutty Sark
  16. Dulwich Art Gallery
  17. St Michael, Poplar Walk
  18. Red House, Bexleyheath
  19. 39 Frognal
  20. All Souls, Station Road
  21. Harmondsworth Tithe Barn
  22. Granada, Tooting
  23. The Ritz
  24. The Wellington
  25. Westminster View
  26. The Hoop and Grapes
  27. Kingston Upon Thames Marketplace

27 My London Highlights

  1. Avery Row, Mayfair
  2. Sweetings, Mansion House
  3. Leysian Mission, Old St
  4. Smithfield Market, Farringdon
  5. St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell
  6. Underwood St, Old St
  7. The Captain Kidd, Wapping High St
  8. Fifteen, Westland Place
  9. BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane
  10. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Rd
  11. Thomas Briggs Building, Southgate Rd
  12. Barbican Complex, Silk St
  13. The Geffrye Museum, Kingsland Rd
  14. Lloyd’s Building, Lime St
  15. Liberty, Great Marlborough St
  16. 30, St Mary Axe
  17. Leadenhall Market, Leadenhall Pl
  18. Borough Market, Stoney St
  19. Selfridges, Oxford St
  20. The Wenlock Arms, Wenlock Rd
  21. St Pancras Hotel, Euston Rd
  22. The Three Crowns, East Rd
  23. Kings Cross Station, Euston Rd
  24. The Shepherdess Cafe, Shepherdess Walk
  25. Hatch, MacKintosh Lane
  26. Tate & Lyle factory, Factory Rd
  27. Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley

27 Japanese Restaurants

Over the last few years, I’ve grown to love Japanese food. This year I’m going to try 27 different Japanese restaurants. I’m going to try for a mixture of proper restaurants, street food vendors and lunch takeaways.

  1. Sexy Fish, Berkeley Sq
  2. Roka, Charlotte St
  3. Shackfuyu, Old Compton St
  4. Yoobi, Lexington St
  5. The Japanese Canteen, Middlesex St
  6. Tonkotsu, Mare St
  7. Bone Daddies, Old St
  8. Maki, Old St
  9. Sushi Tetsu, Jerusalem Passage
  10. Ten ten tei, Brewer St
  11. Feng Sushi, Stoney St
  12. Shogun Ramen, Prince Albert St
  13. Pham Sushi, Whitecross St
  14. Sosharu, Turnmill St
  15. Kulu Kulu, Brewer St
  16. Anzu, Norris St
  17. Uchi, Clarence Rd
  18. Shoryu, Denman St
  19. Kanada-Ya, St Giles High St
  20. Zen Mondo, Upper St
  21. Tokyo Diner, Newport Pl
  22. Hare and Tortoise, Chiswick High Rd
  23. Flesh and Buns, Seven Dials
  24. Koya Bar, Frith St
  25. Ippudo, St Giles High St
  26. Jidori, Kingsland High St
  27. Nobu, Old Park Ln

27 Homemade Cocktails

I’ve worked with a number of booze brands over the years, which has provided the perfect excuse to try lots of different cocktails. But I’ve never had to make them. So this year, I’m going to learn how to make 27 cocktails – from the classics, through to some more obscure and new-age twists.

  1. Bloody Mary
  2. Old Fashioned
  3. Manhattan
  4. Negroni
  5. Margarita
  6. Corpse Reviver #2
  7. Black Russian
  8. Martini
  9. Tom Collins
  10. Whiskey Sour
  11. Singapore Sling
  12. Sidecar
  13. Algonquin
  14. Cosmopolitan
  15. Long Island Iced Tea
  16. Brandy Alexander
  17. Mojito
  18. Daiquiri
  19. White Lady
  20. Zombie
  21. Sazerac
  22. Brooklyn
  23. Aviation
  24. French 75
  25. Martinez
  26. Vieux Carre
  27. Gin Fizz

CHALLENGE 26 (COMPLETE)


26 Mini Pilgrimages 

This year I’m aiming to make 26 mini pilgrimages to graves and memorials of people that have influenced the way I think. All have contributed significantly to culture, creativity, art and science. (I’ve got a slightly longer list than the one below, and will swap in and out if the opportunity arises.)

  1. Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. Edward Ardizzone
  3. Isaac Newton
  4. Oliver Postgate
  5. Spike Milligan
  6. Rudyard Kipling
  7. Winston Churchill
  8. Henry Tate
  9. Charles Darwin
  10. Emily Davison
  11. Bert Jansch
  12. Heath Robinson
  13. Janis Joplin
  14. Brian Epstein
  15. Bill Bernbach
  16. John Bonham
  17. William Shakespeare
  18. Amy Winehouse
  19. Frank Pick
  20. Ian Fleming
  21. John Venn
  22. BB King
  23. Buster Keaton
  24. John Peel
  25. Robert Hooke
  26. Christopher Wren

26 New Recipes

I used to be quite a good cook. At one point, I even wanted to be a chef. And one look on my instagram will prove to anyone that I love my food. But the last few years, I’ve got quite lazy in the kitchen – and I must admit that Wist ends up cooking more than I do. This year I’m going to try 26 new recipes – and try and rediscover my love for cooking (rather than just eating…)

  1. Zucchini, Basil and Parmesan Salad, POLPO, Russell Norman
  2. Spring chicken in a pot, BBC GoodFood
  3. Fish Pie, St John (The Complete Nose to Tail)
  4. Chicken Cacciatora, Delia’s Complete How to Cook
  5. One-pan salmon with roast asparagus, BBC GoodFood
  6. Chicken, Goats Cheese & Tomato bake, BBC GoodFood
  7. One-pot Chicken and Chorizo, Nathan Outlaw
  8. Roast Chicken and Lemon Bombay Potatoes, Jamie Oliver
  9. Pickled Celery, Pitt Cue Co.
  10. Mediterranean-style lamb chops, BBC GoodFood
  11. Mighty mackerel salad, Jamie Oliver
  12. Cheat’s pappardelle, Jamie Oliver
  13. Chicken with thyme salad, Angela Hartnett
  14. Steak tartare, Spuntino, Russell Norman
  15. Roasted whitefish and leeks, Jamie Oliver
  16. Super-speedy steamed salmon, Jamie Oliver
  17. Tabbouleh salad, Delia Smith
  18. Chicken with coconut and apricot, Nigel Slater
  19. Rhubarb fool with lemongrass and lemonade, BBC GoodFood
  20. Patrick Leigh Fermor’s moussaka, Rick Stein
  21. Lemon drizzle traycake, Mary Berry
  22. White chocolate and pistachio cream, Ferran Adria
  23. Lamb Peka, Rick Stein
  24. Chicken and chorizo jambalaya, BBC Goodfood
  25. Lamb with Rosemary & Port and hasselback potatoes, Nigella Lawson
  26. Smoked haddock, mustard and saffron, with deconstructed piccalilli, St John

26 Independent Coffee Shops

Less boozy than last year. I’m hoping this will be better for both physical and mental health. Ideally I’ll experience something similar to society’s jump from the middle ages to the enlightenment. That was just swapping mead for coffee – right…?

  1. Appestat, N1
  2. Workshop Coffee Co., EC1
  3. Dose EC1
  4. Ozone, EC2
  5. Origin, EC2
  6. Relax, EC1
  7. Saint Espresso, N1
  8. Sightglass Coffee, CA94110
  9. Four Barrel Coffee, CA94103
  10. Slate Coffee, EC2A
  11. Barbour and Parlour, E2
  12. Climpson and Sons, E8
  13. Workshop Coffee Co., W1U
  14. Fuckoffee, SE1
  15. BL-NK, EC2
  16. White Mulberries, E1W
  17. Association Coffee, EC3
  18. Caravan, EC1
  19. Notes, EC2
  20. MacIntyre Coffee, EC1V
  21. Fernandez and Wells, WC2H
  22. Lowdown Coffee, EH2
  23. Dept. of Coffee and Social Affairs, EC1N
  24. Intelligentsia Coffee, CA90291
  25. Two Hands Coffee, TX78758
  26. Stumptown Coffee, NY10011

CHALLENGE 25 (COMPLETE)


25 Comedy Acts

I’ve read quite a bit online and in the trade press about planners nicking insights from comedians. It’s no surprise – comedians are great at uncovering the real truths behind people’s behaviour. It therefore seems only right that I make comedy gigs one of my challenges this year. Rather than plan all 25 and then try and tick them off throughout the year – I’m just going to see if I can complete the list before next year.

Here’s the list so far:

  1. Stewart Lee @ The Soho Theatre, Work-in-progress show
  2. Steve Richards @ The Park Theatre, Rock & Roll Politics
  3. Adam Buxton @ Kings Place, Work-in-progress show
  4. Tim Key @ Union Chapel, Invisible Dot
  5. Josie Long @ Union Chapel, Invisible Dot
  6. Joshua Ross @ Leicester Square Theatre, New Comedian of the Year
  7. Mark Thomas @ Tricycle Theatre, Cuckooed
  8. Comedy Store Players @ Comedy Store
  9. Tim Key @ Invisible Dot KX, Father Slutmus
  10. Stewart Lee @ The Bloomsbury Theatre, Robin Ince’ Christmas Ghosts
  11. Josie Long @ The Bloomsbury Theatre, Robin Ince’ Christmas Ghosts
  12. Festival of the Spoken Nerd @ The Bloomsbury Theatre, Full Frontal Nerdity
  13. Alan Davies @ Comedy Store, Stand up for Stand up
  14. Sean Lock @ Comedy Store, Stand up for Stand up
  15. Joe Wilkinson @ Bloomsbury Theatre, Joe Wilkinson & Friends
  16. Rhys James @ The Pleasance, Work-in-progress show
  17. Lloyd Griffith @ The Pleasance, Work-in-progress show
  18. Stewart Lee @ Cheltenham Town Hall, Room with a Stew
  19. Mark Thomas @ Finchley Arts Centre, Cuckooed
  20. Ellie Taylor @ The Good Ship
  21. Andrew Maxwell @ The Good Ship
  22. Ninia Benjamin @ The Bedford, Banana Cabaret
  23. John Moloney @ The Bedford, Banana Cabaret
  24. Tom Wrigglesworth @ Udderbelly, Best of the Comedy Store
  25. Sean Collins @ Udderbelly, Best of the Comedy Store

25 Whiskys

As beers was so much fun last year, I thought it might be quite a nice challenge to take on a spirit instead. So I’ve decided to try whiskies. I’m going to make sure I get a pretty good split from around the globe, but rather than tick them off, I’m going to take them as they come:

  1. Yamazaki 12yo, Japan, Barbecoa
  2. Nikka From The Barrel, Japan, L’Enclume
  3. Glengoyne 12yo, Scotland, L’Enclume
  4. Gentleman Jack, USA, BA Lounge T5
  5. Compass Box Hedonism, Scotland, Flat N1
  6. FEW Rye Whiskey, USA, Flat N1
  7. Caskstrength & Carry On Cutty Sark, Scotland, Flat N1
  8. Nikka Yoichi 20yo, Japan, Flat N1
  9. Goldlys 12yo Manzanilla Finish (1st release), Belgium, Flat N1
  10. Glengoyne, 10yo, Scotland, John Gordons
  11. K5 Himalayan, Bhutan, Virgin Clubhouse T3
  12. BenRiach 13yo 1999 Virgin American Oak Finish, Scotland, Flat N1
  13. Rebel Yell Kentucky Bourbon, USA, Flat N1
  14. Tincup American Whiskey, USA, Flat N1
  15. Caol Ila, Scotland, Hotel Du Vin Cambridge
  16. The Peatmonster, Scotland, Hotel Du Vin Cambridge
  17. Reference Series I, Scotland, Skiber An Hyli
  18. Dalwhinnie 1996 Oloroso finish Distillers Edition, Scotland, Skiber An Hyli
  19. Togouchi 12 Year Old, Japan, Flat N1
  20. Glenburgie – Batch 1 That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Scotland, Flat N1
  21. Breckenridge Bourbon, USA, Flat N1
  22. High West Campfire Whiskey, USA, Flat N1
  23. Old Pulteney 17 Year Old, Scotland, Flat N1
  24. Strathmill 12 Year Old Flora and Fauna, Scotland, Flat N1
  25. Lagavulin 16 Year Old, Scotland, Goodmans Mayfair

25 Breakfasts from around the world didn’t end up getting finished. I didn’t commit to it properly – despite the help from Wist with various dishes (including Akuri at Dishoom and Grits at Jackson & Rye.)

To see my 25 Photos from the year, click here.


CHALLENGE 24 (COMPLETE)


24 Museums

This year, I’ve decided to visit 24 of the lesser known museums in London and review them. Everyone knows about the Science museum, the Natural History museum and the V&A. But what about Pollock’s Toy museum, or The Stephens Collection?

Here’s the list:
1. Cartoon Museum
2. Churchill War Rooms
3. Cinema Museum
4. Dennis Sever’s House
5. Dr Johnson’s house
6. Design Museum
7. Down House
8. The Geffrye Museum
9. London Film Museum
10. London Transport Museum
11. Mansion House
12. Brunel Museum
13. Museum of the Order of St John
14. Musical Museum
15. Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret
16. Pollock’s Toy Museum
17. Rose Theatre exhibition
18. Fashion and Textile Museum
19. Royal College of Music Archives and Museum of Instruments
20. Sherlock Holmes Museum
21. Twinings Museum
22. V&A Museum of Childhood
23. Bank of England museum
24. The Stephens Museum

24 Beers
This year, I’m trying 24 new beers. Christopher Howse said real ale fans are just like train-spotters, only drunk. Well much like a trainspotter, I’m documenting and reviewing them as I go.

1. Kohinoor, Windsor & Eton
2. American Pale Ale, Long Man Brewery
3. Hadouken, Tiny Rebel Brewing Co.
4. Oscar Wilde, Mighty Oak Brewing Company
5. Hophead, Dark Star Brewing Co
6. Green Shoots, The Marlow Brewery
7. Titfer, A Head in a Hat Brewing
8. Bitter & Twisted, Harviestoun Brewery
9. Swallow and Swift, Trumans Brewery
10. Guzzler, York Brewery
11. Lapworth Gold, Byatts of Coventry
12. Badger Golden Champion, Hall & Woodhouse
13. Billabong, Tiny Rebel Brewing Co.
14. Eton Boatman, Windsor & Eton
15. God lager, Nils Oscar
16. New World IPA, Northern Monk Brew Co
17. Windermere Pale, Hawkshead Brewery
18. Long Blonde, Long Man Brewery
19. Notting Hill Red, Moncada Brewery
20. Lion, Hook Norton Brewery
21. First Light, Hook Norton Brewery
22. Summer Meltdown, Dark Star Brewing Co.
23. Scurvy Bitter, Greene King House Ale
24. Aviator Ale, Dent Brewery

24 Frames a Second

There’s 24 frames a second in your average movie.
And I remembered an old quote from Dylan Williams saying that planners should try and get a strong grounding in the art of storytelling through film – as it can teach you so much about advertising, creativity and life in general.So off the back of that, this year, I’m: 1) Starting to experiment with film, and have something to show for it at the end of the year. 2) Watching some of the many critically-acclaimed films that I haven’t got round to seeing yet…

Here’s that (embarrassing) list:

1. American Beauty
2. The Birds
3. The Empire Strikes Back
4. The Fog
5. The Godfather
6. King Kong
7. Up
8. The Mark of Zorro
9. The Shawshank Redemption
10. Goodfellas
11. Se7en
12. The Usual Suspects
13. Casablanca
14. It’s A Wonderful Life
15. Reservoir Dogs
16. Singin’ In The Rain
17. Some Like It Hot
18. The Graduate
19. The Untouchables
20. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
21. Memento
22. Donnie Darko
23. Fargo
24. A Clockwork Orange

To see my 24 Photos from the year, click here.


CHALLENGE 23 (COMPLETE)


23 new foods

1. Jellied Eels
2. Pig Cheeks
3. Sweet Meats
4. Bubble tea
5. Dried Insects
6. Quails egg
7. Creme De Menthe
8. Frogs legs
9. Snails
10. Kangaroo
11. Nettle tea
12. Oysters
13. Steak Tartare
14. Dandelion Wine
15. Gazpacho
16. Pea Soup
17. Root beer float
18. Gnocchi
19. Ox Heart
20. Squirrel
21. Spotted Dick
22. Souffle
23. Kumquat

23 photos

Russell Davies has talked in the past about the importance of documenting the things that you see and the people you meet every day.

I took photos on a daily basis (thanks to my blessed iPhone) and saved my favourite 23 from the year here.

Take a first aid course
Nothing to do with ’23′ but I really wanted to do a first-aid course…!


CHALLENGE 22 (COMPLETE)


22 Gigs

1. Ryan Adams
2. Kings of Leon
3. Goldfish
4. Scott Matthews
5. Willy Mason
6. Nizlopi
7. Hanson
8. Duke Special
9. Andy Oliveri
10. The Great Last
11. Jake Morley
12. Rich Robinson
13. Andy Oliveri
14. Willy Mason
15. The Staves
16. Scott Matthews
17. Duke Special
18. Ryan Adams
19. Alabama Shakes
20. Johnny Parry Chamber Orchestra
21. POB
22. Lunar Festival

 22 New London Pubs

1. The Prince Regent, Marylebone
2. The Apollo, Marylebone
3. The Globe, Baker St
4. 1888, Marylebone
5. The Masons Arms, Marylebone
6. The Woolpack, London Bridge
7. The Globe, Covent Garden
8. The Lyric, Soho
9. The Ship, Soho
10. The Island Queen, Islington
11. The Kings Head, Angel
12. The Green Man, Great Portland St
13. The Eagle, Old St
14. William IV, Old St
15. The Swan, Chiswick
16. The Punchbowl, Mayfair
17. The Castle, Pentonville
18. The Edinboro Castle, Camden
19. The Bull, Islington
20. The Rocket, Kings Cross
21. The Grand Union, Wandsworth
22. The Hope and Anchor, Islington

22 New books

1. Awkward Situations for Men
2. Perfect Pitch
3. The Fry Chronicles
4. Truth, Lies and Advertising
5. Life (Keith Richards)
6. The Advertising Concept Book
7. Hegarty on Advertising
8. Treasure Island
9. Catcher in the Rye
10. How to Live on 24 hours a day
11. Friends like these
12. Dear Coca Cola
13. The Art of Client Service
14. Yes man
15. Danny Wallace and the centre of the universe
16. The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas
17. Steve Jobs Biography
18. Cutting Edge Print Advertising
19. Catch 22
20. Animal Farm
21. A Clockwork Orange
22. The Upright Piano Player

22 New Albums

1. Jake Morley – Many Fish to Fry
2. Andy Oliveri – Sing Mercy
3. Farm Dogs – Last Stand in Open Country
4. Scott Matthews – Live in London
5. Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight
6. Scott Matthews – Into the Firing Line
7. Turin Brakes – Live at the Palladium
8. The King Blues – Punk and Poetry
9. The King Blues – Save the world, Get the girl
10. Frank Turner – England Keep my bones
11. Anchor and the Wolf – The Cinema Suite
12. Whiskeytown – Strangers Almanac
13. Alexi Murdoch – Time Without Consequence
14. Fionn Regan – 100 Acres of Sycamore
15. The Watson Twins – Talking to you talking to me
16. Feist – Metals
17. Sam Brookes – Sam Brookes
18. Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
19. Treetop Flyers – To Bury the Past
20. The Staves – Mexico
21. James Blake – James Blake
22. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

4 comments
  1. Laura said:

    Sometimes WILFing at work is productive… I love your yearly challenges – definitely trying the recipe one for 2016. 🙂

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