Tag Archives: Bristol

24 Hours in Bristol, making the finals

I forgot to post that I was a finalist in the 24 hours in Bristol photography competition. This was my shortlisted entry:

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“Warehouses on the Welsh Back” taken between 4am and 5am.

Who feeds Bristol and what can we do about it?

Did you know that 10 in 35 Bristol wards don’t have a greengrocer? According to where you live in the city, this may or may not surprise you. I live in the city centre and while I hear of people selling fresh fruit and vegetables in the Bear Pit on Pero’s Bridge and on North Street, I can’t think of a single dedicated greengrocer near me. People in Brislington and Lockleaze have none while those in Westbury-on-Trym have four.

Nationally, 75% of food retail is controlled by four companies, collectively known as ‘the Big Four’ and in the city centre there is evidence that there is a higher concentration of supermarkets than in other parts of the country. The big consequence of this is that some people, usually in the poorer parts of the city, have little choice as to where to buy their food (see reports below).

Here are two reports which provide some more information about Bristol food and retail: Bristol Good Food Plan (2013) and Who Feeds Bristol? (2011)

The Bristol Good Food Plan was published by the Bristol Food Policy Council which was launched in March, 2011, at the Bristol Food Conference. It was based on a key recommendation from the Who Feeds Bristol report written by Joy Carey. Bristol is the first city in the UK to have a Food Policy Council.

We now also have a plan about what to do. Stay tuned.

 
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The Best Sunday Roasts in Bristol

Looking for the best Sunday roast in Bristol is probably one of the loveliest past-times but it’s not really a Summery sunny-day kind of activity. For a while we used to go to the St Werburgh’s Sunday roast pop-up which not only made for a good walk from the city centre but was one of the most excellent Sunday roasts around. When that stopped operating a few months ago we tried a few different places but then forgot all about it when summer kicked in.

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Mid-August can be the hottest part of the year in some countries but not for us. I think we could handle a roast again. The criteria are a little tough, an excellent meal, space for the little one and close enough to walk there.

1. Town House, Whiteladies Road:

We’ve eaten there many times and even though it was never for a roast, I know they serve award-winning Sunday roasts. On the negative side, there’s not much for M to do there and the outside part is right on the road.

2. The Old Bookshop, North Street:

The veggie roast includes a Heidi Pieminister pie and we had one of our best roasts there last winter. It was very crowded though and again, had little for M to do and little space to run around.

3. No 1 Harbourside, Bordeaux Quay:

Very good food that looks so stylish, I’m always surprised that it’s available in a sparse looking place with such a casual atmosphere. A big ‘maybe’ of a choice.

4. The Pumphouse
I’ve never been but the outside terrace looks on to the Floating Harbour, the food is meant to be superb and it’s close by.

5. The Hope and Anchor, Jacob’s Wells Road
Perfect location with a wonderful and surprisingly huge beer garden. Last time we were there though (over a year ago) the vegetables were more washed-out than fresh and vibrant and none of it was particularly inspiring. There’s a great space for M to run around though. Do we go and hope that it’s all somehow, magically changed? It is a rather lovely and cosy pub.

Where else serves Sunday roasts?

Bordeaux Quay, Grain Barge, Glassboat, The Gallimaufry, the Rose of Denmark, The Victoria Park (Windmill Hill) …

Any suggestions?

Update

We ended up going to the Hope & Anchor which turned out to be a great choice. The day was warmish and sunny and the beer garden was wonderful for my daughter to explore. There were three veggie options and I went for the Butternut Squash, Leek and Coconut Bake which looks a bit awful in the picture but was lovely to eat. My daughter’s dad’s roast beef was a bit too gravy-heavy but the location made up for it.

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My glass of house wine was a Sauvignon Blanc and there are three sizes. It was a lovely choice.

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Breakfast at Wallfish Bistro in Clifton

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Two days ago, I had some black-looking thick and ugly mushrooms on toast at River Cottage Cafe. They were most unpleasant to look at with the grimy streaks they left on my place and weren’t exactly exploding with flavour. A week before that I had been served the most beautiful looking girolles on toast served with herby butter and arranged like little flowers around and top of a slice of sourdough.

The Wallfish in Clifton may only have started serving brunch for the first time last weekend but they were certainly miles ahead of the River Cottage on service and flavour. They were perhaps a little overenthusiastic with the drinks menu which I was handed as I walked in and all the cocktails listed on the breakfast menu are a bit daunting for 10am but nevertheless, I have become a big fan of their breakfasts.

Their baked beans are home-made and taste authentically country-farm (probably). They were lovely and smokey and have bits of bacon. I ordered them for my daughter but she was not impressed as they tasted nothing like Heinz.

I did wonder about the freshness of our bread as the delivery came in from Jo’s Bakery on Gloucester Road after we had been served but it was toasted and sourdough so I wasn’t surprised at needing a knife to cut it, it tasted ok. The water jug looked like a fish and glugged when you poured in a most pleasing way. I liked it. I’ll be back.

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Bristol book tournament

In Progress: last updated 09 August, 2013 07.58am
And the best ever Bristol novel is … (the list so far)

LA Weekly have been running a 32-book tournament to discover the best LA novel ever written and it got me thinking about the best Bristol book and how to find it.

Bristol has a long and fascinating association with literature but it seems to be one of the less celebrated cultural aspects of the city. Treasure Island was purported to have been written just around the corner from where the Bristol Old Vic set its production two years ago. Allen Lane (1902-1970), the found of Penguin Books was Bristol-born and educated and there are many more well-known and lots not-so-known works that bring life to characters and places.

There’s a list on Goodreads about books based in Bristol but there are only 10 on it including Jeffrey Archer and something about a pole dancer. To be fair there’s also Julian Barnes’ peculiarly-reviewed A sense of an ending and Smack by Malvin Burgess.

Not much fodder for a tournament however.

Bristol Reads offer their own slightly more literary selection which includes Philippa Gregory and Eugene Byrne

The Last Llanelli Train by Robert Lewis sounds fascinating (2005). It features an alcoholic private detective specialising in the seedier side
of his trade, this noir crime-fiction novel is set amid the squalor and splendour of Bristol.

I had assumed the criteria for a Bristol novel would have to include a Bristol setting but there are other links to Bristol : Julie Burchill is a Journalist and novelist born in Bristol and I don’t know whether any of her books are set here. There’s also Jules Hardy, winner of the WHSmith Fresh Talent Award in 2002.

A list of Bristol novels from Bristol Reads

Eugene Byrne Things Unborn (2001).
E H Young The Misses Mallett (1922).
Marguerite Steen The Sun Is My Undoing (1941)
Philippa Gregory A Respectable Trade (1995).
Lucy English Selfish People (1998).
Lillian Bouzane In the Hands of the Living God (1999)
Jeannie Johnson A Penny for Tomorrow (2003).
Daniel Mayhew Life and How to Live it (2004).
Robert Lewis The Last Llanelli Train (2005)
Ed Trewavas Shawnie (2006).
Caroline Carver Gone Without Trace (2007)

A list of Bristol books from Twitter and blogs

Austen, Jane – Northanger Abbey (1818) (Blaize Castle is destination for an abortive expedition in Northanger Abbey)
Brown, Chris – Guilty Tiger
Cusk, Rachel – Arlington Park (2010)
Dickens, Charles – Pickwick Papers (1836)
Flood, C.J. – Infinite Sky (2013)
Godwin, John – Children of the Wave
Hall, M.R. – The Coroner (Jenny Cooper 1) (2009)
Lee, Jonathan – Who is Mr Satoshi (2010)
Maughan, Tim – Paintwork (2011)
Nichols, David – Starter for Ten (2004)
Smollett, Tobias – The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

Some additions from blogger Nose in a Book.

Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar
Dead Innocent by Maureen O’Brien
Future Bristol edited by Colin Harvey
Manson, Mike – Where’s My Money
The Sun is my Undoing by Marguerite Steen

Nathan Filer : https://twitter.com/nathanfiler

Missorts – a location-based work by app and writing;

A list of Bristol books from Bristol publishers

Redcliffe Press
http://www.bristolbooksandpublishers.co.uk/

I’ve contacted the following:

Akeman Press – publishers of books about Bath but they may know of some Bristol novels as they are regional specialists;

Bristol Short Story Prize – they read many Bristol stories.

A list of Bristol books from Bristol libraries

Local history books for sale at the library – scroll down – link

A list of Bristol books from Bristol Bookshops

Stanfords

A list of Bristol from Bristol higher education institutions

University of Bristol
UWE
City of Bristol College

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Books from authors living in Bristol

Burchill, Julie
Dunmore, Helen – author of 11 novels
Hardy, Jules
Harvey, Deborah
James, Amanda – A Stitch in Time
Powell, Gareth L.
Wakling, Chris

The Bristol Fiction Writers’ Group – blog

There are all the authors from the Bristol Short Story Anthologies –
Volume 4

  • Brandt, Ruth
  • Bullock, Emily
  • Bunting, Timothy
  • Burton, Ian
  • Fairweather, John
  • Govinden, Niven
  • Gramich, Eluned
  • Lever, Naomi
  • Lewis, Laura
  • Mazzini, Miha

Volume 5

  • Arnold, John
  • Bardsley, Lewis
  • Bokkers, Catherine
  • Boyle, Lizzie
  • Conran, Alys
  • Durrant, Neil
  • Hood, Kerry
  • Richards, Ian

The Cube cinema in Bristol is raising money to buy itself

The Cube cinema in Bristol is a hub of community action and culture but it is now threatened with closure as the lease on the building is about to expire. The lease was the only privately-held component to the multiplex which has been run by volunteers for nearly 15 years.

The plan now is to raise money to buy the building and make improvements and as someone who has had to carry a buggy with a sleeping 4-month-old in it down the steep steps and then back up the ones to the cinema, I can’t wait for this to happen. Instead of rent going to the landlord it will be going back to the enterprise.

A purchase price of £185,000 has been agreed with the landlord and almost £45,000 has been raised so far through donations and fundraising events.

More information is available on this page: http://www.cubecinema.com/freehold/

I hope they raise the money as the Cube is a lovely place that could have become a favourite if I had more time and mobility. I saw Husbands there at a baby-and-me cinema visit when they ran around to get the dvd started as I was the only customer. I took my filter coffee in with me and M slept through as Falk and Cassavetes raged on with their manly debacles. It was an even more poignant visit as Peter Falk died that week.

It was also the first place my daughter and I saw Kid Carpet and the Noisy Animals. This place doesn’t just pay lip service to the notion of a community enterprise, it actually feels engaging and welcoming. “The Cube premises have a rich history, having been occupied at various times by a recycling depot, a girls’ school and a centre for the hearing impaired. At some point it was home to an amateur dramatics group who hand-built the stage and seating of the auditorium. It hosts a single screen and has a red-velvet-seated capacity of 103.” ( – David Biddell, see link)

Other links:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2012/apr/24/cine-files-cube-microplex-bristol

Graffiti at the back of the Cube microplex, Bristol

The Severn Project at Temple Meads

The Severn Project is a Community Interest Company (07253111) founded by Steve Glover in April 2010 with the aim of creating a more effective and person centred model of drug and alcohol recovery.

The Severn Project

The Project is designed to bridge the gap between treatment and social reintegration though a process of education, training and employment.

You can see some of what they have been doing on Bath Road just next to Bristol Temple Meads.

On a pretty coloured wall, with pictures pasted on and drawings colourfully used around the ages, there is a hole with the words look here.

The Severn Project

The Severn Project

The Severn Project

http://thesevernproject.org/

Top five places for breakfast in Bristol, 2013

With great sadness, we say goodbye to Lahloo Pantry which has closed down. It takes with it some of our loveliest memories.

Since my last post on breakfasts, a year ago this time, there have been some changes and updates in the breakfast situation. 40 Alfred Place is now mainly used for pop-ups and the fabulous Hart’s Bakery has found a new house at Bristol Temple Meads. So let’s recap:

1. Hart’s Bakery at Bristol Temple Meads: excellent pastries, cakes, buns, toasties, lunch yummies (like pasties, tarts and soup) and most importantly and palatable all day – Laura Hart’s famous Custard Tarts. Possibly the best tarts in the world and I’m willing to do a global taste tour to find out.

2. Papadeli: their soy lattes aren’t that great but their food is delicious. They are at the RWA and in Clifton.

3. Source Food Cafe: just overall excellent quality food, own-made black pudding, croissants, a good selection including pancakes with bacon, porridge with Drambuie, hard-boiled eggs with soldiers and a full English breakfast. Also, their French toast with fruit selection is lovely. Good coffee too!

4. Bordeaux Quay: this restaurant is no longer on my bad books after my daughter and I visited two months ago and we discovered that they have a whole collection of books and toys for children at the back of the restaurant. There is a box near the back wall before you get to the toilets. Their scrambled eggs and soy latte were excellent.

5. Full Court Press: the new cafe which serves exceptional coffee (and BonSoy soy milk) now also serve Hart’s Bakery custard tarts and other sweet and savoury treats by Bosh. Coffee and cake counts as breakfast, right? A delightful little cafe with friendly and helpful Matt and Dave behind the counter. Update: Hart’s bakery custard tarts are available on Thursdays only and cinnamon buns are available the rest of the weekdays.

Full court press 1 Full Court Press inside Full Court Press 2

Bonus breakfast tips

Grillstock: from 8 to 10am, Grillstock serve breakfast rolls of pulled pork and egg. They come highly recommended.

Tart on Gloucester Road: I haven’t eaten here but have only heard good things from friends.

Watershed: excellent scrambled eggs. So-so tea from tea bags (as far as I know) and coffee is ok.

Boston Tea Party: Pre-baby, I used to be a regular at BTP and loved their soy lattes and poached eggs. However their stairs and distance have put an end to that for now. They also do great porridge.

Flinty Red at the Bristol Old Vic: This Michelin recommended restaurant makes excellent breakfast items but they stay out of the top five until I can visit and they have both coffee and soy milk available at the same time. Black filter coffee is nice but not good enough. Their granola is a true delicacy with hazelnuts and lovely crispy muesli.

Lahloo Pantry: – currently closed temporarily so not in the top five but — fresh cakes, a myriad selection of exotic and sturdy every day tea, locally sourced ingredients such as bacon from Ruby & White butchers on Whiteladies Road and excellent scrambled eggs served with sourdough toast. We celebrated my daughter’s second birthday there and if there is any matcha cake when you visit then it comes highly recommended by a two-year-old.

Flinty Red at the Bristol Old Vic for breakfast Breakfast at Flinty Red Flinty Red at the Old Vic

The big city read along with the Universe Versus Alex Woods

the-universe-versus-alex-woods-new I picked up a free book at the library this afternoon and I don’t need to return it because it’s part of a Big City Read sponsored by publishers Hodder and Stoughton, the Reading Agency, Bristol City and Somerset Council’s library services and local bookshops.

This is a giveaway with one thousand copies of Gavin Extence’s Glastonbury-based novel ‘The Universe Vs Alex Woods‘ available in libraries throughout Bristol.

The novel chronicles the adventures of unlikely teenage hero Alex Woods who, despite his unconventional start in life and clairvoyant single mother, knows lots of things, such as how long it would take to drive to the sun (over 140 years, if you drove 24 hours a day and stuck to the motorway speed limit).

When he meets ill-tempered,reclusive widower Mr Peterson he makes an unlikely friend, who tells him that you only get one shot at life. Then Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation is in uproar.

The Big City Read will culminate in special finale events in Bristol and Glastonbury, including a visit by the author to Bristol Central Library on Wednesday June, 12 at 7pm.

Tickets for the event are available at all local libraries.

Kate Murray, head of libraries for Bristol City Council said: “We’re celebrating 400 years of public libraries in Bristol this year, so we’re delighted to be able to offer our readers a birthday present in the form of this fantastic book.”

Mayfest, May 16 to 26

Here’s one of my favourite things to do with Mayfest shows: pretend that they apply to people from various parts of Bristol. For example, while walking down East Street the other week I wondered how the people walking through there would react to Hook, Skip, Repeat: being invited to use brightly coloured rope and a giant crochet needle, to help weave eye-catching spider’s web-like creations. It’s free.

How about Turning the Page, to who would this be most suited?

Imagine if your well-thumbed, outdated guidebook could talk. Think of the stories it would tell about the places it’s been, the characters encountered and narrow escapes along the way.
Through this intimate installation you are invited to investigate a series of clues hidden within a guidebook that magically come to life as you turn the pages.

How do books act as repositories of treasures and triggers of memories? When we read a book, do we leave something of ourselves in and on its pages?

I imagine that it would be magical for everyone although I may be a little biased as it is taking place in the library.

There’s something about some art installations or plays that make me think that it’s all designed for white middle-class audiences and then I read their program and realise that I am more than white and middle class.

Without trying to sound pompous (and failing), the human experience beyond labels is what the artists find as well and it was Brand New Ancients I thought of I as walked passed betting shops

The gods are in the betting shops, the gods are in the café,
The gods can’t afford the deposit on their flat …
Winged sandals tearing up the pavement,
Me, you, everyone, Brand New Ancients.

(Kate Tempest
Friday 17 – Saturday 18)

Mayfest brand new ancients

There’s also one where you are advised to only sign up if you are not afraid of heights and don’t have a heart condition. Goodness.

The Great Spavaldos

Mayfest runs from May 16 to 26 and there are many things to do – see Programme.