Happy birth­day, Alice

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

HE drinks and food get curiouser and curiouser. And I feel more and more un­der­dressed. I’m sur­prised they let me in. I don’t have a be­spoke wal­rus mous­tache or whiskers of any kind. I don’t suit ging­ham and I’m not wear­ing an out­sized fob watch. But I do have a themed gryphon nose. And, un­der cer­tain lights, my pro­file ap­par­ently looks a lit­tle like that of a dodo.

I sip my “Won­der­land” cock­tail. Some ta­bles have “Green Mo-tea-to”. Alice is pass­ing around a teapot of dark rum, grena­dine and gold­en­berry juice. The Mad Hat­ter is pour­ing “Drink me” cock­tails and the March Hare acts as the som­me­lier at the Alice Pop-Up Ex­pe­ri­ence.

What’s this? As the King said gravely, “Begin at the be­gin­ning and go on till you come to the end: then stop”.

This is the year of Alice. Oc­to­ber marks the 150th an­niver­sary of the pub­li­ca­tion of Lewis Car­roll’s Alice’s Ad­ven­tures in Won­der­land and there’s a range of events planned to cel­e­brate the au­thor’s mad­cap ge­nius, in­clud­ing an Open Day in his home­town of Ox­ford on July 4 and an Alice ex­hi­bi­tion at Lon­don’s V&A Mu­seum of Chil­dren in Beth­nal Green.

In Llan­dudno, in north­ern Wales, there are two new apps ready for trav­ellers to down­load: Fol­low The White Rab­bit Trail and Alice Ori­gins tours. Vir­tual char­ac­ters guide fans around a town par­tic­u­larly

Flanked by the Mad Hat­ter and the March Hare, Kevin Pil­ley cel­e­brates the 150th an­niver­sary of Alice in Won­der­land.

rich in Alice mean­ing, as the place where Alice Lid­dell, the girl who in­spired Car­roll’s fa­mous char­ac­ter, spent her child­hood hol­i­days. The tour takes in Madoc St with its oak White Rab­bit statue, and St Ge­orge’s Ho­tel where Lewis is thought to have writ­ten some of the story, to St Tudno Ho­tel, where the Lid­dell fam­ily stayed.

Trav­ellers can learn Welsh en route, with the Mad Hat­ter coach­ing ev­ery­day phrases. His first ques­tion is whether you like pineap­ple. Con­ver­sa­tions are also avail­able with Play­ing Card sol­diers and Live Flow­ers.

Fol­low­ers of th­ese walk­ing tours can play cro­quet in Happy Val­ley, have a pint of “Mad Hat­ter” in the Lily Restau­rant and have their pho­to­graph taken along­side a cedar Cheshire Cat statue or the Twee­dle Twins in Haul­fre Gar­dens. The town holds an an­nual jam-eat­ing con­test. Last year, 2469 tarts were con­sumed on Llan­dudno’s of­fi­cial Alice Day on May 1. At­tend­ing this year’s cer­e­mony will be an of­fi­cial town Alice – 10-year-old Melissa Jane Hall from the lo­cal Ys­gol Tudno school, who will ac­com­pany the town mayor on civic en­gage­ments.

Among the cel­e­bra­tions are two Alice Pop-up Ex­pe­ri­ence supper par­ties on April 24 and 25 in Lon­don’s East End, sim­i­lar to the trial event I joined last year. Or­gan­iser Tomo Ke­meby takes his in­spi­ra­tion from the 2010 film.

Dur­ing my supper party, there are mad­cap per­for­mances ac­com­pa­nied by live mu­sic be­tween four cour­ses.

The cour­ses in­clude wild,

wild won­der­land risotto and tur­tle egg turnip mousse in a rich mock tur­tle egg broth. Dessert is a rasp­berry Queen of Heart’s Tart with caramel trea­cle ice-cream.

“We guar­an­tee your ex­pe­ri­ence will be much more muchier than any­thing you’ve ever imag­ined,” quips Ke­meby.

Orig­i­nally en­ti­tled Alice Un­der­ground, the fa­mous story was al­legedly hatched in 1852 dur­ing a row­ing trip down the Thames from Ox­ford to God­stow and Nune­ham Courte­nay. Car­roll told his story to Alice Lid­dell, the daugh­ter of the dean of Christ Church Col­lege, where the au­thor stud­ied and taught maths. There are Alice cruises along the route leav­ing from Lon­don’s Folly Bridge.

The au­thor, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dod­son, was an in­ter­est­ing bloke. Born in Cheshire, the son of a par­son was deaf in one ear and stam­mered. He prob­a­bly suf­fered from epilepsy and many be­lieve this con­di­tion in­spired some of his books. His grand­fa­ther was an Ir­ish bishop.

He de­vised cross­words and

MAD­CAP CA­PERS: (clock­wise from main) Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp in the 2010 film and on the trail of a tall tale in Llan­dudno, Wales.

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