Saturday, 5 July 2014

It's Carnival!

I am ashamed to admit that, although I have lived in Bristol for 24 years, I have never been to St Paul's Carnival.  That is until today!


 
 














Friday, 4 July 2014

Glasgow: June 2014

Our hotel,the Victorian House Hotel (which I would highly recommend), was situated just along the road from the Glasgow School of Art so tragically gutted by fire.  The charred woodwork glimpsed through shattered windows was a depressing sight but the stone structure remains defiantly intact and there is real hope of being able to reconstruct the interior.

  



I continued my exploration of the city's independent coffee shops with a latte at the Laboratorio Espresso where I chatted to the owners about the Bristol Pound and their visits to our cafes.

We ate at the Ubiquitous Chip (disappointing), Tchai Ovna (quirky atmosphere and aromatic milky tea) and the Saramago Cafe Bar (delicious tapas).

We walked along the Clyde as far as Glasgow Green, popped into the Winter Gardens at the People's Palace, visited the famous Barras market and wandered through the Merchant City.


And, as always, we ran out of time ...

  
I won't be back until after the referendum.  We do indeed live in exciting times!

Te Magistrum Creamus

Last weekend we caught the train (never the plane!) north to Glasgow to watch our elder daughter graduate.

Here we are: one lovely young woman and two immensely proud parents.


It's tempting to elaborate, but the photo says it all. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Birch - A Review

Intrigued by the activity in a local corner shop, previously a deli and an Indian takeaway, I vowed that when it flung open its doors I would be among the first to book a table.

Which explains why A and I chose Birch to celebrate his upcoming birthday.

The restaurant is very simply decorated and furnished - clean white walls, square cafe style tables, mismatched chairs, a high bottle lined shelf, with colour provided by the teal paintwork on the windows and a bright geometric design on the bar.  It was full when we arrived at 8:30 pm but we were quickly shown to a table by one of the large windows that form two sides of the room.  We were presented with a plainly typed menu and offered a choice of still or sparkling house water.  A nice touch.

The menu is divided into six courses; snacks, starters, mains, ices, puddings and cheese.  We skipped the snacks and headed straight for the starters.  I chose the asparagus; four long spears resting in a pool of cider butter, sprinkled with chopped toasted hazelnuts.  A went for the smoked trout, its fillets nestled between Jersey royals, daubed with pea green puree and scattered with watercress.  Just as I was thinking that a bit of bread wouldn't go amiss we were served two crusty slices with a pat of the yellowest butter.

For the main course I would have ordered the woodland pork but sadly it was sold out.  No problem when we discovered that it had been replaced by hogget, a year old sheep, something both of us were keen to try.  It arrived, delicately pink, accompanied by the creamiest mash, a mound of fresh green spring greens and a rich gravy.  The meat was so tender we hardly needed the steak knives provided.

The list of puddings featured one of A's favourites, treacle tart with a jug of cream, so that was him sorted.  I went for the lighter option, a perfectly clear, delightfully wobbly elderflower jelly alongside a quenelle of thick cream and a pile of poached gooseberries, whose piquancy was the perfect balance to the clean taste of the jelly and the lusciouness of the cream.

We drank half a bottle of a Cotes du Rhone.

We didn't spot an espresso machine, which was my only regret, as I like a small cup of strong sweet coffee to round off a meal.  Hopefully one's in the pipeline.

The service was attentive and helpful and the atmosphere relaxed and friendly.  Beccy took good care of us front of house while Sam worked his magic in the kitchen.  It made for a pleasant change to be seated looking out over a peaceful residential street rather than a bustling high road.  Very European I thought.

The bill was calculated on the back of an old menu which appealed to my passion for recycling.  At £60 it represented great value for three courses of fine food, expertly cooked and tastefully presented.

With a constantly changing menu to reflect ingredients in their season I feel sure there will always be something to tempt us back to Birch for future celebrations.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Pop Up Park / Make Sundays Special

A month after its transformation into a giant water slide, Park Street yesterday became an urban park.  After a miserably damp grey week the sun came out, the shops and restaurants spilled out onto the pavements and the good folk of Bristol came out in their hundreds to promenade up and down what is normally a busy thoroughfare, eat and drink, play games, listen to music, sprawl out on the patches of artificial grass and soak up the atmosphere of this this vibrant city.


P for Park Street.
Looking up ...


... and back down again.


There were colours ...


... and pictures


... and games to play.


Meanwhile in Corn Street under a zig zag of bright bunting ...


... families battled with giant chess pieces ....


... Agnes Spencer served up her aromatic curry goat ...


... and temptation lurked ....


... at every turn!

Where else but Bristol!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Incredible Edible Bristol



As yet no sign of life in my seed tray, but yesterday morning vegetables were sprouting madly along the wall of the Hen and Chicken pub on North Street (or technically Greville Road!) at Bedminster's inaugural Incredible Edible Bristol event.  Check out the website (and FaceBook page) for what's going on and how to join the revolution.  As the saying goes 'If you eat, you're in!'

A small but cheery band of locals braved the cold morning air to 'plant' the roots and shoots and, just when we needed them, the incredible (but not necessarily edible) GoodGym runners jogged up to help with the goddess of fruit and veg.

Bristol, don't you just love it!





 
  

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Living Below the Line


Here I go again!

Undaunted by the monotonous diet of claggy rice and insipid frozen mixed vegetables, and without even the comfort of a regular supply of tea, I'm planning to rise once more to the challenge of living on £1 a day for 5 days from Monday 28 April until Friday 2 May.

In addition to raising awareness of the plight of the 1.2 billion people who live in extreme poverty, I am also raising funds for Oxfam. If you respond as generously as you did last year then it will be well worth it.

I thank you.

To donate click here.