Monday, 31 December 2012


After almost 30 years of variously living in, or regularly visiting Cornwall, until yesterday I'd not yet visited Porthleven. Matt and I were keen to do so, but the rest of the family felt that St Ives offered 'more for kids' (more cafes and shopping, certainly, but this is perhaps better phrased 'more', with no mention of kids). So after stopping in St Ives, we eventually made our way to Porthleven. It was spectacular. On a particularly stormy day, the sea air was exhilarating, and as the town is built around a harbour, the waves were crashing from all sides. The waves were enormous, some around 15', and we were surprised and concerned to see children playing on the beach, letting the waves chase them up the sand. We were more horrified when we found an elderly women alongside them, walking her dog in the shallow water, especially when she almost got dragged under. People do get claimed by the sea in this area, and we didn't fancy a rescue mission on such a blustery day. We walked on along the coast, sea spray splashing our faces, until it was time to leave, and head home, back to Bristol. It was great to see somewhere new, and somewhere less spoilt by tourism. St Ives is lovely, but Porthleven is wilder, and feels somehow more real.


29th December 2012 We parked in Newlyn and walked the easy coast path which follows the road to Mousehole. The houses along the road have an amazing view across Mounts Bay, and the expanse of sea and sky must provide a differing daily backdrop according to the weather. It was eery and grey today, with a stormy sea fit for seals playing. We made it quickly to Mousehole before the shops shut, and meandered through the pretty fishing village, where every other shop is an art gallery. There was a lot of impressive art to take in, and once we'd had our fill we headed to the harbour for chips. Then the Christmas lights were switched on, and the harbour and hills around Mousehole were filled with luminous cats, Loch Ness monsters, starry gazey pie and other more traditional Christmas decorations, along with the lit buckets which line the streets. Just beautiful. Lights twinkling, waves crashing, we left Mousehole behind, heading home with a mulled wine in hand.

Saturday, 29 December 2012


28th December 2012 Wild, bleak, vast and incredibly beautiful. We walked the coast path from Botallack to Trewellard, at the end of the earth, and cut through fields back past Carnyorth, where I lived until I was 2. There are endless disused mine shafts, incredible light, crashing waves and whipping wind. I am so happy to be back where I came from.

Wet slippery West Somerset

26th December 2012 Christmas Day had been so wet and wild in Somerset, that we hadn't been able to go for the usual Christmas walk, and by Boxing Day, were feeling really boxed in. So despite the rain, we headed into the woods to trek to Holford, to test out my new boots. Slipping and sliding over wet leaves and muddy puddles, down coombs and over branches, the new boots got me safely to Holford, with warm, cosy feet. We arrived back at the house sodden, but refreshed.

Monday, 10 December 2012


I got a new job in Tetbury a few months ago, and start soon, so went back for an induction. Again I had to wait for a lift home, and whiled away some time in another lovely little cafe. Tetbury is so pretty. I don't think I'll mind spending more time here.


For a long time we have been meaning to walk in Lynmouth, and finally, last Sunday, we did it. Ignoring reports of rainstorms to come, we bundled friends in the car and drove South. We walked for 8 miles, up hills, across fields, through woodland. It was beautiful, mossy and bright, and the company was fab. Our optimism paid off and the drizzle only started at the end of the walk. Soon we were safely back in the town, filling our bellies with well earned Sunday lunch. Can't wait to go again, in the Spring, when the train is running from the coast up the hill. But for now we were all glad to be out and about in a month where far too much time is spent in darkness.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


As I have a new job, we can finally start looking for a house outside of the city, and the first stop on our search was Nailsworth. It's a pretty town, with everything you need and nothing you don't. It would be my first experience of living somewhere so small, but the views across the valley, proximity to Stroud, work and even Bristol, make it seem like a winning destination. We saw a promising house, and decided to check the area by going for a drink in the local. Satisfied, we left the quiet behind and headed back to our noisy city home. But not for long I'm sure.


We were instantly surprised by how modern, clean and cosmopolitan Istanbul seemed when we got there. There is an efficient tram and metro system, incredible buildings everywhere, and more tourists than I've ever seen before! We were staying right next to the Blue Mosque, so right next to about 800 other attractions too. The only bad thing about this was knowing what we were going to miss, as we only had a couple of days. We did manage to see the Blue Mosque though, and the Archaeological Museum, the Grand Bazaar, the Egyptian Bazaar, the Spice Market, and the massively overpriced Galata Tower. I'd recommend everything else, especially the Spice Market, where you can buy a million types of tea, natural sea sponges, teapots, Turkish delight, and of course lots of spices. But the Galata Tower offers the same views we got from a bridge walking home from the Galata Tower, except it's only open until early evenings, has long queues and an entry fee. We'd been told that Istanbul is the gateway to the East, and that upon crossing the bridge we'd find a huge difference between East and West, but actually, we found it hard to tell any difference at all. We really loved Istanbul, especially the small cafes where we ate Corba, Menemen and rice. It is full of amazing buildings packed with interesting things, but as so many other people are also keen to see them, unless you want to spend most of your time in queues, you need a few weeks to see even just the main sights.


We were stunned by the scenery the minute we arrived on Calis beach. A huge bay in front of us, with small islands dotted about and Fethiye centre to the left, reachable by water taxi. The first couple of days were hot enough to swim and sunbathe or read on the (unfortunately very dirty) beach. Evenings were spent being beckoned into various restaurants along the beach, where you can eat anything from Chinese to Italian food. We also walked along to Fethiye and took in the ancient rock tombs. The sky clouded over on day 3, as we spent the day touring the 12 islands by boat, but the sea was still inviting. The following day, though not really warm, saw us trekking up Saklikent Gorge, knee deep in freezing water, and bathing in mud. At the end of the day we washed the mud off in the freezing, fast flowing river. Invigorating! By day 5 it was comfortable enough to walk, so walk we did, across the hills (or mountains, depending on your view of how big each is), to Kayakoy, an abandoned Greek village. It took a few hours, and created the biggest blister I've ever had, but the scenery was breathtaking in parts, which made up for all the rubbish strewn along the way, and we saw not another soul until we got there. Well, not a human soul. We did see a huge cricket, about 20cm long, lots of butterflies, and a few squashed frogs. It was amazing to arrive and see the town built into the hillside, complete with hundreds of houses, a town hall and two churches, all completely abandoned. By the time we left Fethiye, we had sampled the delicious pomegranate juice, eaten lots of sesame covered snacks, chilled out a lot, and seen some of the local area. We were so sad to miss my friend Mary and her family, who live there, but happy to have seen a little of the life they lead. I can understand why she's so happy there.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


A much needed coffee, cake and natter to celebrate the upcoming birth of Ghaz's baby. My first visit to Frome was a welcome reprieve from a very busy term. The Garden Cafe is lovely and spacious, with fresh fruit and veg everywhere and amazing chocolate cake. We stayed for hours. Afterwards I wandered through the charming streets, thinking 'how can this be? another idyllic English town I knew nothing of'. England never ceases to amaze.

Sunday, 21 October 2012


A beautiful backdrop for a wedding, a stunning beach, a lovely place to be. The next day we went for lunch at the Pedn Olva, which juts out over the rocks and has an incredible view across Carbis Bay. We spied a seal as we sat on the balcony. Just beautiful.

Friday, 28 September 2012


I've been working in Westbury, Wiltshire, for 9 months now, and seen very little of it. I know the train station and my place of work, and that's about it. But today I was lucky enough to be paid to walk with around 1500 children, for 8 miles around its spectacular countryside. It's hilly, and a bit muddy, but beautiful and refreshing. I cannot think of a better way to spend an Open Evening hangover. After a ridiculously busy week, I couldn't have planned or delivered one more lesson. Walking was a welcome reprieve, and an impressive feat of organisation as 1500 children made it 8 miles without getting lost. Wonderful.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

September swim

Baby Jake is born... another nephew for me! So we drove to Brighton on Saturday evening, went to dinner and had an early night as the next day was set to be sunny. It was as promised, so we spent the morning sketching and swimming, then drove to London. We met Jessie for lunch and then finally got to meet the newest addition to the family. He is all cuddly, sleepy and small. Great to meet Jake, and swim, and be away from the madness of the week.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Olympic Stadium

Squeezing the last of the Summer hols out, I watched the Paralympic athletics finals with Immi, Lucy, Andy, Mum and Dad... Amazing atmosphere, amazing talents, amazing achievements. I'm glad I got to see some of the games live at last. David Weir was incredible in the 5000m, winning a gold for GB to thunderous cheers. Loved it.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


It was a grey and rainy day, so we decided to paint a pot. The nearest place to do this was Newquay, so I found myself back in the town where previously I have always been teenaged and drunk. This time we were entertaining children, and ourselves. We settled down in the family room of a central pub, decorating a bowl, mug and plate between us. It was really fun, and I'd love to do more, but it's quite an expensive way to create crockery. Afterwards we ventured into one of the surfy cafes, drank smoothies, ate nachos and pretended we were on holiday. It was nice, and different, and a great way to spend a miserable day.


On another trip to Cornwall the skies cleared for one day of the five, so we took the opportunity to check out a new beach. Nanjizal lies somewhere near Lands End, and requires a bit of a walk across fields to the beach. Once there, the boys and Nana got stuck into the frisbee throwing while I tried to keep warm by curling up on the sand. The sea was rough, and no-one was swimming apart from two enormous seals, who hung out just by the shore for hours. Then I spied Nana in her bikini, climbing across the rocks. Before I had time to wonder what she was doing, a huge wave swept her off, and she disappeared under the water and onto some rocks below. She was rescued quickly, emerging with a bloody toe and knee, and I learned that she had been trying to recover the frisbee from the sea. We all wandered back up across the fields, spying basking sharks in the sea below.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Canal du Midi: Capestang, Villeneuve-les-Béziers, Montpellier

As we queued to pay our 12 euros between us to stay at the campsite, Orangina had never tasted so good! We were very hot, sweaty and dusty after 10 hours on the tow paths, and very much in need of a shower. Once clean, we headed into town in search of food, with no idea of what we were about to see. Capestang was having its annual Fete Locale, which consisted of all the things we most needed at the time. We began by dancing to the band in the street and continued with 1 euro glasses of rose. After a few of these, accompanied by chips and calamares, we went in search of something substantial and veggie, and came across a lovely restaurant where we could sit outside with more rose, pasta and ice cream. Emerging full and happy, we wandered around the many pretty squares of Capestang. Although it's only a small village, it was bursting with life, with makeshift bars, DJs, bands, banners and fairground rides. The strange thing was that everything was Spanish, from the tapas to the music to the flags. We hadn't planned this stop, but felt very lucky to have happened across somewhere so vibrant and small. I would recommend Capestang over Narbonne if ever you find yourself in the area. The next day was the easiest, with only 20 miles to go until we reached Vanessa in Villeneuve-les-Béziers, where we arrived in time for lunch. I thought I'd stumbled into a dream world and still can't believe that Vanessa lives somewhere so perfect. Her house is a minute's walk from the canal, and cycling distance from the beach. The houses are tall and colourful, arranged in narrow, maze-like streets, and the weather is incredible. And best of all it is in France, where life, with its cheese and wine flavouring, is just nicer. We were welcomed with food, wine and smiles, and instantly made ourselves at home, as Vanessa has lots of space. In the evening we went to the beach and swam in the sea, and I couldn't have been happier. The next couple of days were spent exploring the pretty city of Montpellier, hanging out at the beach and watching fireworks (and a little bit of the Olympics). A great holiday, full of sun, fresh air and good friends. That we finished off by the beach meant I could not have asked for more - all my favourite things!

Canal du Midi: Toulouse, Castelnaudary, Carcassonne, Capestang

After talking about it for a year, we finally got on our bikes and cycled. All the way from Toulouse to Villeneuve-les-Béziers, at opposite ends of the Canal du Midi. It's about 150 miles, and I wouldn't recommend doing it in less than the five days it took us (including a rest day), unless you are very fit. We began in Toulouse, where we spent three days acclimatising to the heat and holiday vibes, in the safe hands of Anne and Armand, who have just bought two small properties on the same land and are in the process of making them one large home. It was quite amazing to see them hanging out on a newly laid roof, fitting Velux windows in the 35 degree heat. They are hard workers and excellent hosts, and we ate some lovely local dishes as well as picnics beside the Garonne. We had a great time, highlights being Toulouse Plage, where you can hire all sorts of games, from badminton to chess, free of charge, or chill with a beer in the shade; and the rum bar, which had Jon and Matt all excited about a similar venture in Bristol. We set off on a Wednesday, at around 2pm by the time we'd collected our bikes and repacked our stuff into paniers. The first day wasn't too hard, covering about 40 miles, but took a lot longer than anticipated, as we had trouble with falling paniers and had to choose our route around the tree roots carefully. We couldn't go wrong though, following the canal all the way to Castelnaudary, where we arrived hot and sweaty at around 7pm. After a shower we headed into town and happened across a pizza place run by a young couple, where the electricity blew every time they put their drum n bass soundtrack on. We got on well though, them staying open late for us, and offering us free beer, and we renamed ourselves the pizza n base blackout crew! It was a hot night in the tent, which smelt strongly of the leftover pizza we were keeping for breakfast, and I was relieved to be up and on our bikes again by 10am. Day 2 was only a 35 mile ride, made only slightly uncomfortable by the sparsity of the tree cover in some parts on a very hot day, and a tumble down a gravel path on my part. We arrived in Carcassonne at around 2pm, and had the task of finding our campsite during the hottest part of the day. We were very much looking forward to it, as we were to stay for two nights in the enticingly named 'A l'ombre des oliviers' ('in the shade of the olive trees'), and on arrival we all jumped straight into the pool. Unfortunately the olive trees had quite a bit of growing to do before they would be casting any real shade, but we settled in well to our plot, making friends with the resident ants. Matt thought it would be kind to offer them lots of bread, and they did seem pretty happy about it. Carcassonne was a half hour cycle away, so the next day Matt and I went to visit while Jon chilled out by the pool. The old city was heaving with tourists, but very pretty, and after a three course lunch, feeling full of Cassoulet, we decided we'd be happier in the pool again. We ate a mega picnic for tea and got a very early night, as the next day was to be the longest cycle. We rose at 6am in order to get a lot of the journey done before the hottest part of the day, and by 7am we were back alongside the canal again. We cycled and cycled and cycled some more, until eventually we came across a cafe where we rewarded ourselves with a large beer. After that we found a shop, bought more picnic provisions and sought shade under which to eat them. Then we kept on cycling, until we got to Le Somail, where we needed to turn off for our next campsite in Narbonne. Here we got talking to an older couple, who informed us that there was a campsite nearby which would save us the detour, so I headed to Tourist Info to check it out. Sadly the campsite was full, but we were advised to keep cycling to the next, as then we'd be closer to our final destination. So we summoned all the strength we could to cycle the last 15 miles of the day, and finally arrived in Capestang for 5pm, after 10 hours of cycling!

Friday, 27 July 2012


Penzance has really come into its own with this beautiful weather. The glistening waters at Battery Rocks have enticed many swimmers, the stretch of beach at Marazion has led all ages to play. Everything looks blue instead of grey. I've had a wonderful week of swimming in the sea, playing with my nephews and even taking part in an aquathon with my sporty big sister. I couldn't have chosen a better time to visit such a place which just blooms in the sunshine

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Nether Stowey

We dropped off the car at the garage and walked back. I felt I was living the story 'We're going on a bear hunt', as there were so many 'Oh No's. First we went through a field of thigh high swishy swoshy grass, which was fine until we got to the end of the field and discovered a herd of cows, calves and a massive bull blocking the exit. Matt shooed them away and we ran onto the lane. Then we came across a flood, and, unable to go through it, we had to go around it. This involved climbing a bank by the side of the road, but the bank had gaps in it, which we'd have to jump. I have a little fear of jumping gaps, and couldn't do it, so we had to find an alternative route, which took us through a field of elephant grass. Here we came across another obstacle - mud, squilchy, squelchy mud, which we had to go through. Emerging back onto the lane we were met by yippy yappy dogs, but once past we were only 100 metres from the house. Safe at last! But Oh No... here we came across a big white van blocking our way. Eventually we were back. Not the way I'd intended to spend my Sunday morning, but a mini advernture nonetheless.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Valley of the Rocks

Just an hour from the Harrisons is a stunning part of Devon coastline named Valley of Rocks, where Exmoor meets sea, and the views of moor, valley, water and Wales in the background, stretch as far as the eye can see in places. The rocks are stacked precariously along the coast, and we spent a delightful afternoon walking amongst them, climbing them and photographing them. It reminded me very much of the October holiday I spent walking along the Gower coastline, although this side of the channel appears to behold fewer stretches of sand, favouring ancient woodland instead. We finished the outing by passing through Lee Abbey Estate, stopping on the rocky beach to play games. It was lovely, right up until the moment when I fell into the river and covered myself with green slime. But this is an enchanting piece of Britain, and perfect for a sunny, cool afternoon.


Dodging the drizzle, we made our wet way to Bossington for a Sunday stroll. Our optimism paid off, as we were greeted by a storm which seemed to hang perpetually over the sea and never quite break over us. We stumbled across pebbles up and down the beach, then sat in a tea garden, saluting the Queen and her Jubilee celebrations with cream tea. The garden was very pretty, made all the more so by the tame birds which came to share our crumbs. Bossington is very quaint, with tea gardens a-plenty and miniature donkeys too. Definitely worth a visit. As we got back to the car to head to Porlock Weir the drizzle descended and we left our sunlit oasis behind - for now at least.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Grampound Road

We stopped at Grampound Road for some of Katy's delicious cake and tea, and played in the garden with Oscar and Amelie, who were absolutely delightful. I just love toddlers. We gossiped and caught up, then had our fingers measured and discussed ideas as Katy is going to make our wedding rings. A wonderful end to a wonderful weekend. I am so blessed to not only have my own gorgeous family, but to be marrying into such a lovely one too.

Battery Rocks

An array of rocks, complete with rock pools surround the Jubilee Pool in Penzance, and provide a lovely spot for a picnic, pasty, beer or swim. They overlook St Michael's Mount and Mount's Bay, and are just where the Prom meets the town. We spent a happy lunchtime there on Sunday, playing I Spy and hanging out with my gorgeous nephews. I really didn't want to come away.

Penwith's best

Starting the day at the Prom, Penzance, we watched the Olympic torch race by, then ran up Chapel St to watch it changing hands at the top of Market Jew St. Then commenced a tour of the loveliest places to bring around 100 friends and family. Starting in Chapel St, we visited Penzance's oldest pub, then immediately ditched that idea due to its dubious stance on sustainability amongst other things. On the way out of Penzance we got caught up in the torch parade, and as we waved flags out of the open top of the car, we were cheered on our way. Our next stop saw us upgraded to the beautiful Sandbar at Praa Sands, well worth a visit any time as it looks immediately onto the beach. Just stunning. Next were two St Ives hotels, one much bigger than the other, with a better view and stunning wooded gardens. Eventually we made it to the Sandsifter in Hayle, which did not compare to the splendid Sandbar or the opportunities for fun in St Ives. A fab day finished off with one of my favourite activities, drinks and gossip around the kitchen table with family. Having also somehow found time to book a church, I feel we had a very successful day. How lucky to have so many stunning places to choose from!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sunday in Stroud

I was all ready to embark on a day of admin and sorting, when I realised I could see something rare and wonderful outside - the sun! So plans were scrapped and off we went towards Stroud, with the intention of checking out some art galleries. Most things in Stroud seem to be shut on a Sunday however, so we adjusted our plans once more and went for a roast in The Crown in Frampton Mansell. The service was great and the pub cosy, but before we finished our game of scrabble we were enticed out again by the sun and beautiful surroundings. We walked along a path, crossed the railway and entered a field with cows and a stream which looked a bit like paradise. I'm growing to love this area, and am very hopeful that we can move here soon.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A beautiful weekend

A beautiful weekend spent in Penzance and Somerset. On Friday evening Jim, Matt and I walked to St Michael's Mount and had a look around in the gorgeous evening sun, then supped on cider at the Godolphin Arms, a starling by our side. On Saturday morning the entire crew minus Andy went to play on Perranuthnoe Beach, setting off foam rockets, playing football and scrambling across the rocks. Another drink at the Godolphin followed, and on Sunday, after a wonderful walk in the wilds of Penwith, we made our way to Matt's parents, to skip, hunt Easter eggs and celebrate in the beautiful garden. Happy family gorgeous sunny outdoor times.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


I will always think of Vancouver as bright, blue, clean and shiny. It's a bit of a contrast to Seattle, which is greyer, grimier and busier by comparison.
Vancouver is easy to walk around, easy to get out of and easy to be in. In the short time we were there we managed to climb mountains, eat seafood and rollerblade around Stanley Park in the sunshine. I felt far away from worldly worries. I felt, warm, carefree and happy. A great place to visit.


The city of rain... nobody told me this before I went. It was still good though. I loved the Seattle mentality, it seemed so British. It might be raining, so what? Get wet! And we did get wet, particularly when walking through the water sculpture... funny that! We also drank loads of coffee, ate tons of good food, and shopped away, specifically in Capitol Hill (I want to go back), Fremont and Pike Place Market. The latter is a great place for a coffee as you watch the sun set over the mountains and the sea. No wonder they are sleepless in Seattle, the amount of coffee they drink! Seattle is cool. Best of all, it brought the four of us together again after 6 and a half years, and hosted the wedding of CJ and Nik.

Saturday, 24 March 2012


We trudged through a muddy field in the dark to get to The Plough for Fran and Chris' 30th birthdays. It wasn't far to go, but I wasn't to know that, having never done it before, so I found it a little disconcerting when a horse came galloping towards us. It was stopped by the electric fence though, and we soon emerged onto a quiet road on a starlit night.
After a few drinks in the pub we headed off into the night again, breaking the silence of Holford's lanes on our route to the cottage, which was once the Village Hall. The rest of the evening was spent chatting and relaxing in the cosy living room.
The next day, between the heavy showers, was bright and clear. We spent Mothers Day afternoon walking in Crowcombe, which was just heavenly. The air was clear, the views panoramic and nature all around us was waking up to the warming sun.
We saw newts and their spawn, lizards, buzzards and deer, all to the tune of the skylarks song and the sweet smell of gorse. As we looked down the valley we saw steamtrains coming inland from Minehead, and as we stood on a perfect circle made from broken stones, I had the feeling that this view seemed unchanged in 100 years. With no traffic noise, the steam from the trains, and expanses of green stretching in every direction, I could fool myself that we were far from 2012.
I was very happy there, and can't wait to go back in the Summer, as there is so much space in which to play and sunbathe. I could happily spend a day forgetting myself in the fields.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


12 and a half years after getting my German GCSE I finally got to it try out when I visited Berlin this week. I've been meaning to visit for a long time, especially as my younger sister was living there recently and absolutely fell in love with the city, and as people often draw comparisons between Berlin and Bristol, the city I now call home.
Finally I found the time to go, though not enough time as it turns out. We were looking forward to a break after working very hard and putting up with a freezing flat at the start of this year, so we booked ourselves into a posh hotel and packed our bags.
We turned up late on Wednesday and headed straight out for food. Bizarrely, we could find not a single place to eat, and after wandering many quiet streets we gave up and headed back to our hotel. Luckily where we were staying was clean, comfy and cosy, and some consolation.
After a good sleep we stepped onto Berlin's streets again, wandering hungrily for a little too long until we finally stopped at a cafe and filled our bellies with good food. We were surprised at how cheap our meals were. We made it to Ku'damm and sat down in another cafe, this time with a beer. After a swim in the hotel pool we headed north to take in the graffiti and hang out by the river, and ate at a wonderful sushi place where we were treated to no less than 34 pieces of sushi, and after drinks our bill still came to less than £20! We ended the night in a studenty area, drinking strong, tasty vodka based drinks and taking a taxi back to our lovely hotel.
We began the next day at the Turkish market in Kreuzburg, where we bought lots of edible treats, then sat in a Turkish cafe eating baklava, once again surprised by how cheap it is to eat in Berlin. Wandering the streets of Kreuzburg, eating and drinking beer took up the rest of the afternoon, and after a stop in the Topography of Terror museum, we were ready for another swim, sauna and spa. In the evening we visited Checkpoint Charlie, which was really expensive but really really interesting.
Berlin is a place crammed full of history, shopping and graffiti. It is culturally very diverse, despite its chequered past, and must be a wonderful place to be a student. I loved the metro, the food and the street art. Next time, I want to visit more museums, hire a bike and hang out in the sunshine. A few days is just not long enough.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Montpelier, Bristol

A particularly brutal week of cycling to work in sub-zero temperatures before 7am, to be met by moody teenagers and exam targets, was broken up nicely by a trip to my old patch, Montpelier.
Matt met me off the train at Bristol Temple Meads on Wednesday, and we headed straight towards the Thali cafe. It was a little early for dinner, so we popped across the road to the Beaufort for a drink first. It smelt strongly of wee. We ordered our drinks then sat watching Eggheads on TV as the barlady coughed loudly next to us.
Then to the lovely Thali cafe, which has changed since my last visit. They now serve meat, and have extended the restaurant beyond the cluttered front room into the back, which is now a spacious, pleasant dining room. There are four Thali cafes in Bristol, each one a different size but with a similar laid back ambience. I used to think it must be the easiest place to waitress, as most people order the same thing: a tray of pickles followed by a Northern Thali. It's delicious, and must be very cheap to make, as it consists of cheap ingredients such as rice, lentils, salad and spices. A winning formula, leaving diners full and satisfied. The menus vary slightly in each cafe, but basically consist of just a few dishes, and I imagine huge pots of lentils and rice on the go all night. They also do an eco-takeaway in the form of a tiffin, just like traditional lunchboxes in India, which can be refilled for cheaper than a usual takeaway.
I love the Thali. I also love Mela which is opposite the Thali cafe in Montpelier, a friendly takeaway which offers thali and many other dishes, at very low prices.
Nearby, most people have good things to say about Herbert's bakery, Bell's Diner (I always wonder how people feel eating an expensive meal as they look out at the bins and remains of bric-a-brac sales on the corner), Yogasara studios, Licata Italian supermarket, the Radford Mill Farm shop, Galliford Stores, and even the chippy on the corner. They all add something to the community feel, relaxed vibe, and slightly smug quality of Picton Street, Montpelier.
At first glance it may look a lot like a crowded, scruffy street strewn with rubbish, but this week Montpelier saved my sanity and carried me safely through to the half term break.

Monday, 23 January 2012


We are considering a move away from the city, so when a friend invited us for a pub lunch in Slad we jumped at the chance. It was blowing a gale, and we started with a bracing walk in Burnham, then drove to Slad where we lunched in the Woolpack. The sky was clear, the view beautiful and the company lovely. The food, however, was outrageously overpriced. Before long we took advantage of the bright day, walking up the hill to look down on Slad, which is very pretty. This is a land of rolling hills, grey stone buildings and green everywhere. It seems like a pretty, pricey option.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Goat gully

After a long lie-in and a really good clean of the house, we needed some fresh air. We headed to the Downs, where many games of football were being played, and down the gorge through an area known as the Gully. This area, in the Avon Gorge, overlooked by the suspension bridge, is home to 20 or so rare species of flora, some of which only grow here. To keep the area in top condition for them to grow, a small herd of goats has recently been introduced, whose job it is to nibble away at the brambles hemming them down. We joined the goats on the steep walk down the gorge, passing a rail ventilation shaft, then turned around and headed back up the hill, emerging back onto the football fields.