Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Summer 2014: My To Do List

In my experience, the longer the holiday stretches, the easier it is to fritter it away.  So, when faced with 5 1/2 weeks this summer, I thought I'd best draw up a list of things I would like to have achieved by the end of them.  Maybe I should have added 'publish list on blog' as it's taken me over a week to do so.  But here it is:

(NB  Having decided that I was going to devote the first few days to recovering from the end of term, I based my list on 5 weeks - 7x5=35)

  1. Cycle to Bath along the railway path
  2. Hold 5 dinner parties (ie have 5 friends/sets of friends round for a meal!)
  3. Day trip to Oxford
  4. Bake 5 pies from my new Pieminister Pie book
  5. Visit Tyntesfield
  6. Make tomato ketchup
  7. Visit the M Shed
  8. Go to Bristol Balloon Fiesta Night Glow
  9. Make falafels
  10. Walk: Snuff Mills
  11. Read 5 books
  12. Create a sourdough starter
  13. Get up early to watch Bristol Balloon Fiesta Dawn Ascent
  14. Shop for clothes for work
  15. Bake 5 new breads
  16. Swim in Street outdoor pool
  17. Make icecream
  18. Picnic at Bristol Zoo
  19. Visit the Jeremy Deller exhibition
  20. Walk: Blaise Castle
  21. Crack Prashad's dhokla recipe
  22. Visit St Werburgh's City Farm, eat meatballs @ Ikea and shop at Bristol Sweet Mart
  23. Make rhubarb & ginger jam
  24. Take advantage of podiatrist appointment to window shop in Cotham/Clifton
  25. Preserve lemons
  26. Swim and lunch at th Lido
  27. Make a start on a recipe folder
  28. Make pizza
  29. Walk: Leigh Woods
  30. Make lemonade
  31. Picnic on Brandon Hill
  32. Have a BBQ
  33. Finish crocheting my daughter's quilt
  34. Walk: Bristol Old City
  35. Bristol Packet ferry boat trip to Beese's Tea Gardens
It's an eclectic mix of cooking, eating, walking, culture and fun.

I'm under no illusion that I'll get through it all and am therefore not going to beat myself up over it if I don't, but it should stop me waking up in the morning wondering what to do with the day!    

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!