Adventures Please is moooooving!

Hello folks! It’s been a while, but this is because there are some exciting developments in store! Firstly….

ADVENTURES PLEASE HAS MOVED TO

HTTP://WWW.ADVENTURESPLEASE.COM/

!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A new design is in progress, and new posts are ready and waiting.

Until then, thank you for your continued support of this project! I am so enjoying writing this blog and recording my adventures. All of your comments and feedback have been very gratefully received. I’m excited to see how the next chapter of Adventures Please unfolds!

Berkeley Castle Header

Explore Berkeley Castle

I fear that my loyal Instagram and Twitter followers might be fed up of hearing about my love for Berkeley Castle, (pronounced BARK-ly) but this is almost it, I promise! For those of you feeling out of the loop right now – don’t worry, I’ll let you know what all of the fuss is about.

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I might have spent more time than the average person exploring and learning about Gloucestershire’s Berkeley Castle. In 2013 I spent 9 muddy days digging here with the University of Bristol’s archaeological excavations. It was mostly fun, but very soggy. I have since returned both as a paying visitor, and as part of the #DigBerkeley Public Engagement and Social Media Team. Plus, I am a big Wolf Hall/Damien Lewis lover and Berkeley Castle features in the TV show. So let’s assume that I’m a bit of a fan.

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Sarah the first year, trowel in hand, thrilled to be spending time in the mud.

The castle you see today began its life shortly after the conquest in 1066 as a motte-and-bailey castle which basically means “a big mound of earth”. Not much later in 1153, Robert Fitzharding (the founder of the Berkeley family which still occupies the castle today) constructed the stone shell keep around the motte, and the curtain wall was added between 1160-1190. This early construction makes Berkeley the oldest continually occupied non-royal castle in England, and the oldest to be owned or occupied by the same family. In fact, when you visit, keep an eye out for Charles Berkeley and his family who can be seen pottering around in the walled garden or around and about their castle home.

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Tours around the castle are freely available and worth hopping on! Highlights for me include seeing the cell where King Edward II was supposedly gruesomely disposed off (with a red-hot-poker inserted *somewhere painful*), the beautiful medieval kitchen with a high spider-web ceiling, and the enormous and impressive Great Hall! The whole place is decorated with paintings, ceramics, silvers, tapestries and objects collected over the years of occupation. Look out for Sir Francis Drake’s cabin trunk, Queen Elizabeth I’s bedding and also the bright red woven silk wallpaper which was originally part of Henry VIII’s tent at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

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Go, like we did, in the summertime to make the most of the beautiful terraced gardens. Ridiculously gorgeous flowers are everywhere and smell amazing! You can’t help but feel regal as you process around the lily pond, and it was lovely to explore the nooks and crannies, admire the wisteria-draped archways and soak in the sun beneath the castle walls.

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In the walled garden there are two bonuses for visitors. One: a butterfly garden with over 40 varieties of butterfly to gawp at as well as a couple of Atlas moths which, if you haven’t seen them before, are legit the biggest moths in the world and look as though they have been hand-painted. Two: the Yurt Tea room which is possibly the quaintest place I’ve ever eaten a scone. With floral bunting, polka-dot pastel tablecloths and little bouquets of pansies on each table – it’s adorable. Alternatively, bring a packed lunch and make use of one of the many picnic benches with beautiful views over the scenic countryside surroundings.

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The deets:

  • Berkeley Castle, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, GL13 9PJ.
  • Admission: Adults £10. Student £8.00
  • Open: Sun-Wednesday in the summer (April-October 29th) 11am – 5pm.
  • Butterfly house open: May-Sept.
  • Last free guided tour: 3.30pm
  • Coffee at the Yurt Café: £2.50.
  • Website: www.berkeley-castle.com
  • Twitter: @BerkeleyCastle
  • Adorable video which sells the castle pretty well IMO:
    https://vimeo.com/127155278 *click*

For more information about the #digberkeley project you can follow the team on twitter or read their blog (let me know if you can tell which blog posts I have personally written).

It’s really exciting to piece together how the landscape and society might have transformed with the arrival of the Normans in 1066. There is evidence continually being unearthed for the presence of an Anglo-Saxon minster on this site, which is super important because very few records of these early religious dwellings remain, especially as Anglo-Saxons tended to build with timber and thatch. = big archaeo-deal. Stay tuned for more discoveries!

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Bristol Harbourside Highlights

At the heart of the city since Anglo-Saxon times, Bristol’s buzzing Harbourside is a hive of activity and (especially in the warmer months) is a gorgeous part of town to explore. In the three years I’ve spent getting to know Bristol, a trip down Park Street to wander the Harbourside has always proved to be worth the journey. Here are a couple of my favourite Harbourside haunts that I would recommend checking out on your next visit. 

First things first, COFFEE: Sip a latte on the terrace at the Mud Dock. 

Mud dock bristol Above an award winning cycle works, selling bike related goodies and providing bike related knowledge, is one of my favourite Harbourside cafes. The airy and rustic warehouse feel is perfectly complimented by the dangling greenery (and bicycles) and beautiful big windows looking out over the Harbourside and some of bristols famous coloured houses. The real treasure though, is the large South facing balcony, where you can catch come rays, drink some great freshly squeezed orange juice and enjoy the views of the Harbourside.

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The deets:

Mud Dock Cafe, 40 the Grove, BS1 4RB.
Open: Monday 10am – 5pm. Tuesday – Friday 10am – 10pm. Saturday 9am – 10pm. Sunday 10am – 5pm.
Americano – £2.00 (Hazelnut latte £2.80)
http://mud-dock.co.uk
@mud_dock

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Check out one of the Harbourside cultural attractions: Learn about Bristol at M Shed.

M Shed Bristol As museums go, I would say that M shed is up there with the most creative, imaginative and engaging. Objects and pictures are incorporated together, things are hung from the ceiling, carefully placed on top of each other and overlooked by enormous buses, bikes and bits of buildings, all to tell the tale of Bristol – of the history of the places we know and love, and the stories of the people who lived there. It gets interactive points too, there are leavers to pull, buttons to press, hats to put on and props to play with – not forgetting the huuuuge map of Bristol on the floor (use one of the magnifying glasses to spot your house!). Pick up a First World War trail at the entrance for a focused trip around the galleries (including a visit to the freestanding Anderson Shelter where you can kit yourself out in WW1 gear and listen to the sound of the sirens – really evocative and medium scary!) to find out stories and facts about the people and places of Bristol and their involvement in the First World War. M Shed Bristol M Shed Bristol

The deets

M Shed, Princes Wharf, Wapping road, BS1 4RN
Price: FREE
Open: Tues-Fri 10am-5pm. Sat, Sun, Bank Hols. 10am-6pm. www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/m-shed/
@mshedbristol

Hungry? (And thirsty?) Grab a pizza and try some cider at The Stable.

The Stable Bristol The stable has a reputation for being good at two things – seriously good pizza, and a seriously large amount of cider, and my friends, these two things are up next in my harbourside highlight tour. If the weather is kind, grab a seat on one of the picnic benches alongside the water (budge up next to some strangers if space is short, don’t be shy!) and enjoy great views of the boats (and swans) whizzing past, as well as the fountains in the centre. It’s especially atmospheric at night with fairy lights strung along the walkway and buskers providing the soundtrack (expect a couple of token renditions of Wander Wall). The Stable Bristol Harbourside The pizza is fantastic. The locally sourced toppings are on sourdough bases, and the selection is fab. My favourite is Billy the Kid (£12) ft. goats cheese, caramelised onions, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, mozzarella and hazelnuts. Delicious. The cider here is also pretty great, and I feel like any day trip in Bristol ought to include at least a pint or two of the apply goodness. For those of you with Menu anxiety or who might be overwhelmed by the choice of over 60 ciders, the stable offer a tasting board of 5 third-pints (£7.50). My friend Olly and I opted for this and, as well as leaving a lot merrier than when we came, decided that they were all “pretty apply”. Give it a go and tell me your reviews. The Stable Bristol Cider

The deets

The Stable, Canon’s Road, Harbourside, Bs1 5UH.
Open: Food from 12-10pm. Drink cider until 11.30.
A pint of cider: £3.80
www.stablepizza.com
@_TheStable

Watch a film you might not otherwise at the Watershed (and then review it)

Bristol Watershed Trips to the Watershed always feel like a really special experience, as not only was the film itself a little bit of a gamble (they tend to show more ‘artsy’ stuff than the type found in Screen 1 at the Odeon) but also the cinema was gorgeous. There are three cinema screens at the watershed and each is much smaller than the average cinema experience, and so much more intimate. Plus, the seats are deliciously comfortable and raised for perfect view. You are encouraged to bring drinks and snacks from the bar (a small glass of wine £3.10) and then to leave thoughts and feedback on the review board – like an IRL twitter feed. Grab a bite to eat at the Watershed’s cafe and bar where they sell organic, seasonal, local food all week – as well as late night snacks until the cinema closes at 23.00. Bristol Watershed Cinema

The deets

Watershed, 1 Canons road, Harbourside. Bs1 5tx.
Box office: 01179275100
Tickets for films before 16.00 – £5.50 full price. £4.00 students.
Tickets for films after 16.00 £8.00 full price. £6.50 students.
www.watershed.co.uk
@wshed

More cider?? Yes. All aboard the Apple, Bristol’s waterborne cider house.

The Apple Cider Bristol Now the cider has transformed into the pre-drinking location of choice for my arch&anth friends and I, so I can tell you from experience, it can get a litttttle busy here, especially in the evenings when the queue for a pint can initially seem a little daunting.. But hold fast, it’s worth the wait. There is a brilliant choice of over 40 different ciders and other apply drinks – and student prices available Mon-thurs!! Most popular is undoubtedly the Old Bristolian – at a whopping 8.4% it is sold by the half-pint, but is especially appealing due to costing only £1.50. Grab a glass and a seat on the deck or on the quayside terrace and laugh about ridiculous exam questions while looking out over the harbour. Perfect. IMG_0508

The deets:

The Apple, Welsh Back, BS1 4SB.
In summer open Midday to Midnight (Sundays midday-10.30pm)
Students get halfpints from £1.50 Monday-Thursday
http://applecider.co.uk
@appleciderco

You should now be feeling medium buzzy. SO time to get your groove on in Thekla – the nautical nightclub.

IMG_0518 Thekla was created as a ship-based theatre in 1982 by Ki Longfellow (married to Vivian Stanshall from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band) and it is now a nightclub/music venue on a cargo ship moored in Bristol’s Floating Harbour. Keep an eye out for acts and ‘nights’ that are put on. I inadvertently found myself dancing away to Gorgon City one night at Thekla and another time (during Bristol’s Dot to Dot Festival) managed to catch a performance by James Bay (just months before he got ‘big’). Thursday nights are ‘Pressure’ nights, when photos are black and white with flashes of red, indie and alternative tunes are boomed out and drinks are two for the price of one. Stumble up and down the warned of stairways to various decks, peer out the griming portholes and find your way to the deck/balcony overlooking the lower dance floor. Further note: they’ve redone the toilets. They are class. IMG_0517

The deets:

Thekla, The Grove, East Mud Dock, BS1 4RB.
Get there from 10pm – but beware. The later you leave it, the longer the queue. It closes around 3am.
I think, depending on who’s playing/what night you’re doing to, entry is something like £4.00 with a student card and nearer to £6.00 without one.
DON’T WEAR HEELS.
I think a can of Red Stripe costs about £3.50??
The details at this establishment are pretty blurry to be honest. They once also had a slushy alcohol drink. That went down a treat but also probably has something to do with the preciseness of these ‘deets’.
Theklabristol.co.uk
@Theklabristol     IMG_0519And so concludes this mini-tour of my Harbourside highlights. Have I missed anything? Recommendations eagerly received!  And don’t forget to check out my other Bristol-based blog posts!

On finishing university?!?!

So, you guys, don’t freak out, but I have some medium enormous news…

I have completed my degree in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol.

I admit I am still in shock. I have yet to catch up on sleep (or game of thrones) but I thought a quick post thinking back over the adventure that was my uni experience and also looking forward to the adventures to come would be cute and topical. So here goes:

I have submitted 27 essays. Sat through 9 exams. Written a 13,000 word dissertation. Thrown up 9 times (that I can remember). Been on 3 compulsory zoo trips. Visited 7 castles. Managed 9 (rainy) days of digging. Had 16 housemates. Racked up £27.000 worth of tuition fee debt (and even more student loans) Let’s not talk about that part. Had 6 jobs. And ultimately, survived 3 years – 156 weeks – of studenthood.

Boiling down three years of my life into a list of numbers feels pretty bizarre. A typical anthropologist, qualitative data is more my cup of tea. But where to begin when summarising such a roller coaster of an experience? I have learnt so much. Not just about Aztecs or Athens or Primates or Personhood, but about living with others, drinking cheap cider, making an unknown city a home, and writing entire essays in all-night stints.

The weirdest thing for me now that I’m done is that for literally the first time in my life, I have no real plans or deadlines. From progressing through school, taking GCSEs in order to take A-Levels in order to get into university, I’m suddenly left with… whatever the hell I want. In the next couple of weeks I have arranged to take part as part of the Social Media and Public Engagement team at an archaeological excavation at Berkeley Castle (See more about that here) and I know that I will be spending the summer in the Alps as a holiday representative (more about that to come), as well as a planned family trip to the Isles of Scilly, and a later trip to Istanbul with L. But come September I will be returning to my family home, to my single bedroom in the attic with my cats, and then…. what?

A little bit terrifying to suddenly have infinity choices..

I suppose it’s true that the world is my oyster, but I just wish that it was a slightly smaller oyster and that someone could come and show me how to do that thing with the lemon and the vinegar and the little forks and the gulping – The oyster analogy actually is a little bit confusing. Let’s move on from that. WHAT I MEAN is that I wish someone could come and tell me what to do with my life and how to do it. However, I suppose I just have to have faith that things will work out how they are meant to and that it will soon become clear what my future holds. Or not. Either way, one thing I have definitely learnt in the past three years is that even when things get really really REALLY crap, you are stronger than you think and can and will endure. So there world. Bring it on.

Any advice from those of you who have graduated and have already tackled the Big Bad World of grownuphood? Anyone else in the same boat as me? GUIDANCE PLEASE!

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The Galápagos Islands – A Natural Paradise

This article was originally printed in the Epigram’s travel section, ‘Eden edition’, with the title “Ecuadoor to Paradise” but I thought I might share it here too in case you were interested. 

At first glance you could be forgiven for mistaking the Galápagos Islands for somewhere closer resembling purgatory than an idyllic island paradise. Roughly 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador, the unforgiving heat, ferocious hardened lava landscapes and ominous, smouldering volcanoes make many of the 19 islands in the archipelago seem like hell solidified – or at least something imagined in a post apocalyptic novel. Seemingly demonic creatures are abundant: Marine iguanas with their beady eyes and sharp claws eye you up as they sizzle on their volcanic sun-beds. Hammer heads and reef sharks are two of the 30 species which lurk not so out of sight in the depths of the surrounding Pacific. Aggressive and vocal pelicans bicker and fight with albatrosses over scraps of fish at the harbour on Santa Cruz. And worst – large and unafraid spiders scuttle noisily across the corrugated iron rooftops at night and wind up in your trainers by morning.

And yet few who visit these ‘enchanted islands’ fail to be moved by the experience. After being fortunate enough to spend three weeks working and traveling there I have come to understand why Darwin described the Galápagos as a “little world within itself”. Snorkelling in the neon turquoise waters off Isabela Island I remember being awe struck by the colours and activity: big black fish with yellow lips and bright blue eyes dash past, enormous scarlet red starfish glint on the seabed next to others a vivid electric blue, impossibly graceful yet impressively large turtles float by. The diving on the Galápagos is rightfully famous, with over 500 species of fish, beautiful corals, 22 types of whale, fantastical and alien looking manta rays, dolphins and (bizarrely) penguins all pottering around in the waters with you. Not forgetting the unmissable presence of the sea lions, who are far from shy even on land as they lounge on pavements and benches.

This explosion of natural life, much of it found nowhere else on the planet, is complimented by the beauty of the clear night skies (supposedly you can see all of the constellations from your spot on the equator) which leave your mind boggling and the fabulous, intense sunsets which take your breath away. The locals are forever friendly and endlessly proud of their beautiful islands and are eager to give visitors tips on where to hike or swim or eat. One taxi driver, Freddy, spontaneously transformed into our personal tour guide and took us to the best place to see flamingos and where to watch the red throated frigate birds swooping to dip their wings in a collapsed volcano crater lake.

If you get the chance to visit these fabled isles – I urge you to take it. And even if natural history isn’t your thing… There is nothing more blissful than sitting on a gorgeous mangrove lined beach, a book in one hand and a cocktail made from oranges you picked that day in the other, looking out across the clear, turquoise waters at the sea lions merrily dipping and diving and the finches swooping. I’ve been to paradise and I’m just longing to go back.

Here are some bonus Galapagos pictures:

Get in touch with your spiritual side at Glastonbury Tor

Now that it at last seems like Spring has finally sprung, I thought I might take a quick moment to tell you about a gorgeous excursion that would serve as the perfect break for those of you who are, like me, scribbling dissertations like mad right now. Take a beautiful, refreshing and oh-so-needed trip to Glastonbury Tor and leave with (hopefully) clear minds ready to return to the depths of the library for another night.

Just an hour away from Bristol along the A37/A39 (or hop on a train to Castle Cary), the impressive sight of the 158m conical hill with its 15th Century Church tower looming on top is visible from miles around. It reminded me a lot of Bilbo’s approach to the Lonely Mountain and I found myself half-hoping that some helpful eagles might swoop by and drop me at the top of the seemingly impossible height that I could see emerging from the otherwise flat levels of Somerset (I’ve been watching the Hobbit lately. Can you tell?).

Walk/Trot/Plod up the steps to the top of the hill, because although for the less fit of us it may seem like a bit of a trek, the views from the summit are absolutely worth it. You can see the beautiful colours of the Somerset Levels, over to Dorset, Wiltshire and Wales. You can also catch a glimpse of the Bristol Channel and over to the Mendips. A superb sight by all accounts!

It’s no wonder that the place is spiritually significant for many. Iron age remains have been unearthed here, and it has been suggested that it was once the site of Saxon fortress. Despite the conical shape of the hill being a natural feature, the maze of hillside terracing winding its way up the tor dates to Neolithic times, adding to the site’s perceived significance. Others link the site to celtic mythology and neopagan lore, citing tales of King Arthur, The Holy Grail and the Mother Goddess. For this reason do not be surprised if you see some folk practicing Ti-Chi on the summit, meditating or practicing their Tibetan Singing Bowl skills (I have to admit, the guy clanging jarringly loudly on his prayer bowl when we were there clearly needed the practice. It was NOT a relaxing sound).

Sit in the shade of the Tower of the Church of St. Michael, admire the views, and wait for the sunset. From your vantage spot it will be a sight to behold. And if you get chilly or in need of a pick me up, pop into the nearby Rifleman’s Arms for a beer.

Useful Information

Price: Free
Opening Times: Open all year round
Facilities: Nope
Bring with you: A flask of coffee (always bring this wherever you go I think), A book, A camera, A Tibetan Prayer Bowl (IF YOU ARE GOOD AT IT. Otherwise, seriously, leave it at home.)
Address: Glastonbury Tor, Off Wellhouse Lane, Nr. Glastonbury, Somerset.
Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/glastonbury-tor/

HOORAY for the outdoors. Maybe have a look at some more of my posts. You might be interested in another walk close to this one? Check out this one about the Weston Woods or this one on where to go for the best views of the Bristol skyline.

‘Undress Your Mind’ at the Wellcome Collection’s Institute of Sexology

Now that most of the initial hysteria surrounding the cinema release of the hugely successful (and equally provocative) 50 Shades of Grey has calmed down, I felt it was the perfect time to give the Wellcome Collection’s Institute of Sexology exhibition a visit. Because, frankly, I will jump at any chance to have open, healthy and positive conversations about sex and a trip to this exhibition documenting (and celebrating) the study of human sexuality is the perfect excuse.

With its enormous array of artefacts and objects exploring the links between medicine, life and art through time, the Wellcome Collection describes itself as the “free destination for the incurably curious”. An interest in the workings of the human body and its health is universal, even if the details of this are culturally and historically variable. The founder of the Wellcome Collection, Sir Henry Wellcome, in his passion for exploring the diversity of these attitudes and ideas, travelled the world and collected over one million objects.

The newly reopened Medicine Man exhibition displays a variety of these often pretty bizarre items, presenting objects ranging from gnarly looking surgical equipment (hardcore hacking saws!!), talismans and amulets with supposedly healing properties to false eyeballs and artificial limbs. Definitely worth checking out for a brief and beautiful introduction to the historical development of medicine worldwide.

Next door, the Medicine Now exhibition explores the body through scientific displays, artistic interpretations and everyday life experiences – especially in relation to medical subjects including genomes and obesity. A life-size see through cross section of a human female shows the veins, the muscles and the inner organs in situ – literally givingscientific anatomical descriptions of the body that we hear about and can sort of half picture some transparency. Nearby an artist likens the shape and variety in the classic ’23 pairs’ of human chromosomes to an ‘odd sock drawer’.

But the main event, (and the one with the largest queue – be warned they often introduce timed tickets, especially on particularly busy weekends) is the Institute of Sexology, investigating human sexuality and how research into this topic has shaped thoughts towards and ideas about sexual behaviour and identity. With displays including a collection of various antique sexual aids (many made of brass, steel or rubber), Moche ceramic pots in phallic shapes, extracts from the Kama Sutra, beautiful carved ivory statues in the form of copulating couples and (maybe one of my faves) a glorious sex chart where a group of ladies recorded their ‘completely subjective’ data about all of their sexual partners, it’s definitely worth taking time to look around!

The stories of some influential individuals who contributed to the beginnings of these conversations about sex were also explored. Marie Stopes (One of my newly discovered heroines) and her story in encouraging the provision of not only explicit practical advice to women when it came to sex, but also contraception was one of my favourites – particularly the black and white photograph from the 1920s of the World’s first horse drawn birth control caravan.

Anthropologists Malinowski and Mead both got mentions (which I was obviously pretty chuffed about) in their contributions in challenging notions of universal codes of sexuality and revealing the diversity of human kind – especially when it came to sex. Their field work in Papua New Guinea and Samoa respectively enabled them to do what Anthropologists do best in ‘making the strange familiar and the familiar strange’. Perhaps western ways of thinking about, talking about, and frankly, going about sex are more peculiar and maybe even more harmful than we once thought.

I also loved the displays about my home boii Kinsey and his intense research involving interviews with over 18,000 Americans about their sexual histories. This revealed, once again, the variation in people’s sexual behaviour, in their wants and desires as well as their actual Sexual activity. This led to the publication of the famous Kinsey scale in 1948 which challenged the confines of classifying people as EITHER homosexual or heterosexual, suggesting that human sexuality was actually more like a sliding scale and that these discrete boxes failed to acknowledge the diversity and unique-nature of individual human life.

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After immersing myself thoroughly in these exhibitions, I left with my mind buzzing and my assumptions well and truly challenged – just the way I like them. I had just enough time to grab a coffee and a snack at their tasty-as cafe and explore their extraordinary gift shop full of quirky, sciency things that I almost definitely do not need but weirdly really, really want before heading home.

Useful Information:

  • Price: FREEEEEEEEEEE
  • Opening Times: Closed on Mondays, Otherwise mostly open 10.00-18.00, except Thursdays when they close at 22.00
  • Institute of Sexology Exhibit – Open until the 20th September 2015.
  • Cup of coffee: £2.20 Americano (£2.80 Vanilla Latte)
  • Bring with you: A pencil and your incurably curious self.
  • Address: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.
  • Website: http://wellcomecollection.org
  • Blog: http://blog.wellcomecollection.org
  • Twitter: @ExploreWellcome
  • Sex By Numbers

ALSO as a bonus prize for you guys, check out some more museum-o posts.