Thursday, 26 May 2016

“I am the Greatest.” Muhammad Ali Exhibition at the O2. May 2015

Tickets: On the official website the tickets are £18.00 plus £2.75 booking fee, so nearly £21.00 in total. I thought that was a bit much. I bought my tickets from Box Nation  it was £14.40 plus £2.50 booking fee so £16.90 in total. There was another website which offered £14.50 tickets and just a small card fee but their ticket entry time was 11:30am only and I wanted to get there early. Box Nation offered different time slots. To be honest, I don’t think it would have mattered because we got there nearly half an hour early and I don't think the lady even checked the time. I think the time slots are more relevant at busy periods.

We arrived at 10:40am. It was very quiet. The Dome was quiet. (That's why I think the entry time wouldn't have made too much difference.) We spent about 2 hours in the exhibition, which I was very surprised about. I didn't expect to spend that long there.
Although I am a sports fan, I am not really a boxing fan. But Muhammad Ali transcends sport. His life, his achievements, his fights inside and outside the ring, his principles and what he stood for. Masha'Allah, he is a great man who had more influence than probably he realises but he has used the status that Allah has blessed him with for good. I got the impression that the talk and bravado was simply just that; for his fights. Deep down he is a quiet man.

For the exhibition you are given an audio guide. You see the numbers on the wall (e.g. round 1) and enter it in the guide then listen to the clip. The beginning is a series of rooms dedicated to the early part of his life: where he was born, his family, where /how he learnt to box, his career as an amateur, the Olympics, his conversion to Nation of Islam, his early professional fights, the Vietnam War up until the George Foreman, 1974, fight. Then you reach the rotunda, which is where it got a bit confusing. The rotunda showcases his professional fights. 

There is lots of video footage, his belts, his gowns, the magazine covers etc. But it was hard to follow the audio guide because it was hard to find the numbers around the room. I basically just started listening to the guide in numerical order regardless of where I was standing in the room. But even then the guide wasn't in chronological order. For example, a clip was playing regarding Sonny Liston. But then it talked about all of the fights the early one and the later ones and Sonny Liston’s death; same with George Foreman. So I found it confusing. It wasn’t really in chronological order. There a few additional rooms off the rotunda. They were regarding Henry Cooper and Paddy Monaghan. And the last room reflects on his life post boxing; particularly the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and that moment when he lit the Olympic flame and was given a replacement gold medal. But also his humanitarian work, his efforts to help others, his fight towards peace.

 On the whole, I really liked it. As I mentioned, I’m not a boxing fan but Muhammad Ali is one of those people whose life is about more than just sport. And he made as big an impact outside his field as he did in it. I, like everyone else, knows that Muhammad Ali will always remain a legend in his sport and will always be regarded as one of the greatest ever sportsmen. I found it interesting to learn more about his life, his famous fights and rivalries and I did like seeing the belts and gowns.

Things I didn't like: the confusing rotunda part, as was stated earlier. I also thought it was very loud! In each room or area there was a video tape playing on loop and the volume was quite high. And then you're trying to listen to the audio guide as well. I did actually get a bit of an earache!

I will write some notes and post some more pictures soon, Insha’Allah.

Friday, 20 May 2016

A Day Out in London: Greenwich and Canary Wharf, May 2016 – Overview.

My Mum had heard a lot about Canary Wharf and wanted to go and visit. I did tell her there is nothing to see there: it is the business district of London. However, there is currently an exhibition about Muhammad Ali at the O2 Arena (until August), which I wanted to see, so, decided to have a day out. This is the official website for the exhibition

Firstly, I want to get one thing off my chest. Why is “The O2”, formally known as the Millennium Dome, called “The O2”? I know it is probably because O2 sponsors the Dome. But why can’t it be called “The O2 Dome”? The problem is that in Northwest London, there is a centre on Finchley Road, Swiss Cottage, called “The O2”. It was built (and therefore named) before the Millennium Dome. So whenever anyone says “The O2” we, north Londoners, automatically think of the one in Swiss Cottage. 

Usually, places keep their names with the addition of their sponsor’s name. So, British Airways London Eye, Emirates Air Line (the zip wire across the Thames), The Kia Oval, The Barclays Premiership, even that bastion of sport Headingly is now Headingly Carnegie. So, couldn’t it be “The O2 Millennium Dome” or “The O2 Dome”?

For clarification the one in Swiss Cottage is: The O2 Centre
The former Millennium Dome, in Greenwich is: The O2 Arena

Anyway, back to our day out. To summarise:
  • First we went to Greenwich to the Dome. From Northwest London it literally took 1 hour to get to there. I was very impressed.
  • Then we took the DLR to Canary Wharf.  
  • Went to see the Crossrail Garden Bridge.
  • Then to the Docklands Museum of London.
I will write about each location in more detail in due course, Insha'Allah.

Guided Tour of Canterbury

On the day we arrived, we went on a walking guided tour of the city. Website If you are in Canterbury for even just one day, you have to go on this tour. You will receive a comprehensive, interesting tour of the whole (historical) city. In summer the tours are 11am and 2pm, in winter only in the morning. Tickets cost £7.50. Apparently the ticket allows a discount at some places but when I asked at the places, they didn’t know anything about the discount!

Our tour guide was called Andreas, who was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. A walking history book! He made the tour interactive and kept repeating important dates, so that we would walk away with some information retained! 

Sights included:
  • The Old Buttermarket (starting point).
  • Taken inside the precincts of the Cathedral, but not the Cathedral itself, viewing of the King’s School.
  • Around the narrow winding roads of Durovernum Cantiacorum.
  • Interesting places: jutted houses, Tudor architecture, the wonky house, first inn in Canterbury, house of Mary Tourtel (Rupert, you’re a wonderful bear), the place where the plot to murder Thomas Becket was planned, residence of Mr Parker, Marlowe Theatre and much, much more.
You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Exploration: Old Delhi AKA Shahjahanabad, India

Shahjahanabad is the original name for Old Delhi. 

Watch this amazing and very informative presentation by Sohail Hashmi describing the architecture and history of Jama Masjid.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Exploration: Canterbury – Eating and Accommodation.


We stayed at the House of Agnes. which is  5 minutes from the train station.  

Parts of the house are over 600 years old and it was mentioned in a Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. It is a really, really lovely place to stay. It is a little bit more expensive than other hotels/ B&B’s in the area but well worth. (I managed to find a discount for my stay compared to the usual price but, now, having stayed there, I would be happy to pay the non-discounted price. It is definitely worth it.)

Booked through When looking on the website, other hotels also had very good reviews, were slightly lower in price, but there was always a ‘but’. Usually, relating to the noise. We stayed in a stable room which is a part of a new set of rooms built in the garden. The room and on-suite were very nice. The rooms had everything we needed: tea, coffee, kettle, biscuits, water, hairdryer, toiletries etc. Even though the railway line runs along the back of the room, the trains didn’t keep us awake at night and you could only hear them very faintly anyway.

Breakfast was lovely.  A wide variety of cold breakfast items.  A freshly cooked hot breakfast also provided, with very personal touch, attentive staff.


For dinner we bought our food from The Olive Grove Really beautiful food: large portions, very healthy, filling and tasty. Staff are very kind and considerate. We didn’t eat in the restaurant but took it back to the hotel. They provided us with plastic cutlery.
We ate: vegetable soup which came with pieces of French bread, vegetable kebab whichcame with pitta bread, chips, a mixture of salads. I even requested some hot milk one night (which I drink before bed) and they gave me some in a takeaway carton!

Thank you so much for making our trip so lovely.

We also ate in the Veg Box Really lovely food; very large portions; easily shared between two. The only problem was that it is so popular that there was no room inside to sit  so we had to sit outside and it was cold!