All posts tagged “adventure

natural history museum at christmas
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Meandering Around Grey London Town

I don’t often find myself in the capital with time to spare. Usually trips to London are to do something, to see something, or generally to rush about without so much time as to stop and catch a breath. It was for this reason that I didn’t used to like London very much; I never took kindly to the fast pace of everything, I was very much settled in my Bristolian ways, thank-you-very-much.

I’ve had a bit of a change of heart of late. I’m not sure if it’s because Bristol is becoming a bit of a mini-London in itself, but I’ve begun to tolerate the capital a far lot more than I used to. So when, after my gift wrapping masterclass on Saturday, I found myself in London with a few hours to kill, I was a little bewildered. What to do with my new-found freedom?! I had a travelcard burning a hole in my pocket, which I wasn’t about to let go to waste.

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santa-con-london

After the workshop, myself and Alice stopped off at itsu for a bit to eat (another London chain making its way to Bristol!) and were surprised by thousands of people walking down Camden High Street dressed as Father Christmas, as ya do! We soon found ourselves in the midst of this crowd trying to get to the tube station, where a chatty tube chap told us that this is a Christmas tradition in ol’ London town; it’s a massive festive pub crawl which ends up getting pretty messy by the end of the day. Note to self: come and join in next year.

After saying farewell to Alice at Piccadilly Circus, I decided to take myself to the Natural History Museum for a spot of nerding out. I always get a bit emosh walking up to that stunning Victorian facade, and it looked particularly beautiful this grey Saturday afternoon, decked out in festive glory with an ice rink and carousel outside.

natural history museum at christmas

Unfortunately for me, the queue was bloody massive (obviously – it was a Saturday two weeks before Christmas) so I decided to call it a day, and starting making my way to Paddington through Hyde Park, stopping off to say hi to Albert first.

royal albert hall
prince albert memorial
hyde park in winter
albert memorial from hyde park

Soon I was safely stowed on a train bound for Bristol after a teeny tiny adventure in a minute portion of the capital. I’m more than aware that there’s plenty I need to see (cereal cafe, for example, plus numerous exhibitions) but I just didn’t have time to do it all that day! Until next time, London. Keep being massive and intimidating.

castlepak backpack review
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CastlePak Backpack Review

castlepak backpack review

I’ve developed something of a *slight* backpack obsession over the last couple of years. From my trio of Fjallraven Kankens (Mini, Classic and Maxi) which have lasted me pretty well, to my Baggu backpack (which hasn’t lasted me quite so well), I am not complete unless there is a pack on my back. Recently, I stumbled upon a company called CastlePak, who sent me one of their backpacks to road test. Read More

end of the road festival
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Why Smaller Festivals Are Best

The humble music festival has undergone a renaissance in the last decade. The first ever festival I went to was Reading, a whopping 10 years ago this August (ermagerd I feel so old). The general vibe of attending a festival back in those days was a tinted with an element of survival; you took things which you didn’t mind getting destroyed and hoped you’d come back vaguely in one piece at the end of it.

Contrast that, then, with the atmosphere and general attitude of the average Glastonbury-goer at the festival this year, which was more Kate Moss than Bear Grylls. I tutted in my old-lady way at young girls dancing away in downpours in little more than a pair of shorts and a glitzy crop top, and took pity on a young thing who was shivering in front of me whilst standing in the mizzle watching Grimes. Put a bloody anorak on, young people!

I digress. The point I’m trying to get at here, is that the older I have become the more I’ve come to realise that the type of festival I enjoy attending is the more laid back, smaller affair – and I’m here to tell you why the smaller the festival, the better. Read More

mercure holland house bristol my room
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Mercure Holland House Bristol #MyRoom

Every now and then, it’s nice to change up the scenery a little bit – to cut loose (Footloose) and fancy free, and pop off on a bit of a holiday. The trouble is, we have exhausted the holiday fund a wee bit, what with our travels around the globe, so another trip overseas is off the cards until at least 2019.

So when Mercure got in touch and asked if I wanted to come and see a specially decorated room at their Holland House Bristol hotel a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance. Me and Tom were treated to a little one-night staycation at their central Bristol hotel. Read More

tyntesfield bristol
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An Autumnal Walk at Tyntesfield

Not many words this evening, folks. I’ve had a pretty tiring day but I’m all tucked up on the sofa watching Autumnwatch by myself like a loser while Tom is at a gig.

Whilst looking at all the cute fluffy animals and autumnal scenes on the telly it reminded me of my trip t’other day, when I took myself down to Tyntesfield for a little wander about.

tyntesfield bristol
tyntesfield bristol
tyntesfield bristol victorian stately home
servants bells at tyntesfield bristol
stained glass at tyntesfield bristol
inside the house at tyntesfield bristol
autumn colours at tyntesfield bristol
tyntesfield bristol
tyntesfield bristol
gardens at tyntesfield bristol
tyntesfield bristol

It was my first time visiting Tyntesfield, which is pretty surprising considering that I’m a bit of a closet history nerd, and nothing excites me more than the thought of a warm October afternoon wondering around a Victorian stately home, especially if there’s a cup of tea and a slice of cake at the end.

The house itself is absolutely stunning, having been lovingly restored by the National Trust since they took over the occupation of the house in 2002. Whilst I was there they were starting to set up the rooms for Christmas, and I can only imagine how magical this place looks when decked out in its festive finery.

If you’re not bothered about crumbly old Victorian houses [insert disapproving look here] you can pay a bit less and have a lovely wander in the vast gardens and parkland surrounding the house.

Perfec’ for an autumnal stroll while the leaves are still crunchy!

Any more historical houses in the Bristol area I need to check off my list?

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My Dream London Trip

Ahh, London.

We don’t often visit the capital because Tom, being of the Northern persuasion, is genetically opposed to London in any and every capacity. Being a Southerner, I have nothing against London, but I have to admit that just being in a city any larger than Bristol makes me nervous, so we don’t often travel south east that often. Having said that, there’s a few things going on in the capital over the next few months which I am dying to pop back and see, plus I’ve got a few pals there, so I’ve chalked up an itinerary for my dream trip to the Big Smoke.

london skyline

Where I would stay
I know, there’s a million and one places to stay in London, but if money were no object, I would most definitely stay in the amazing Rosewood hotel. A luxury abode accessed by a secret Edwardian courtyard just a hop, skip and a jump from Covent Garden? Sign me up! Sure, it’s a bit more than I’d usually pay, but it looks absolutely gorgeous, and if you’re going to do it once then do it well.

What I would see
No doubt about it – I would head straight to the Science Museum first to scope out the cosmonaut exhibition that’s on at the moment, because I’m a bit of a fan of spacey things, and y’all know the Russians did it best. Plus there’s an exhibition by one of my favourite photographers, Alec Soth, on at the moment. WIN-WIN. From there I’d probably pop in to the Natural History Museum to say hi to the dinosaur one last time before it pops off, and if I’m there during the week then I’ll have to make a trip to the museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. I’d love to give those skeletons and pickled organs another visit – call me weird, but I think it’s interesting!

Where I would eat
I know it’s become a bit of a hipster cliche, but I’ve been dying to go to the Cereal Killer cafe. Just the thought of peanut butter cereal smothered in custard milk is enough to get my stomach rumbling! I’d stop off there for breakkie and make a beeline to Ambriento for some lunchtime tacos, cos I do love my Mexican food. Dinner would have to be pizza somewhere, and Homeslice looks like it fits the bill perfectly!

How I would travel
By Boris bike, duh! They look like amazing fun, but I’d probably be wise to stick to cycle paths through parks and the like, cos I don’t want to get squished. When I’m not pootling along dodging the traffic on my little bike, then I might give a duck tour a go!

London folk – any recommendations for a non-native to see during a day-and-night trip?

This post is all my own written content, but contains affiliate links.

Image credits: Pixabay, @sciencemuseum, @cerealkillercafe

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Post-Holiday Blues

This post is reaaaaalllllly overdue. Long overdue. Well overdue. Like… I should have posted about it two months ago. But better late than never, eh?

At the end of August myself and the boy popped down to Dartmouth for a few days for a nice little holiday by the sea. It was a welcome break as we hadn’t been on a proper holiday since April 2014, and we keep umm-ing and ahh-ing about popping off to Europe now we have our shiny new passports, but never seem to get round to actually booking anything.

dartmouth devon harbour

I emailed the lovely chaps at Cafe Alf Resco to see if they had any room this particular weekend, and lo and behold, they did! Not only that, but it was in their super swanky top cabin of all places, which has an amazing view over the harbour.

If you’ve never been to Dartmouth before, then you need to go next time you’re down Devon way. It’s the jewel in the crown of the English Riviera, part old-person seaside town, part artist-cool haven, part hooray-Henry rowing fanatics paradise. It’s the right sort of mix of people which keep the place vibrant and interesting, but welcoming and cosy-feeling, if you know what I mean.

cafe alf resco dartmouth breakfast

Alf Rescos is tucked away in a little back street just ready for you to stumble upon it; it’s reminiscent of a French bistro, with the waft of good food coming from the cave-like inside and an array of tables nestled inside the intricate wrought iron belly of an outside veranda. It’s always packed, so we headed down for breakfast pretty sharpish. If there’s one thing Alf’s is famous for, it’s the breakfast. We sampled most of the items whilst we were there, and can heartily recommend the full English, although the granola ain’t half bad either!

totnes harbour

You’ve got to love a British seaside holiday for it’s predictability. For the most part we just pottered about, drank in a couple of pubs and sat out on our terrace eating cheese and watching the ships coming in and going back out again. On one of our days we decided to venture out on a ‘Round Robin’ excursion – a ferry to lovely lovely Totnes, an open top bus to Paignton, then a steam train back home to Dartmouth. I made a little video about the trip – take a look below!

I absolutely adore Totnes. There’s a bit of a Stroud-y vibe to it (if you have never been to Stroud, then I also recommend doing that, too – they have an awesome market on a Saturday), it’s full of vegetarian cafes and old hippies and arty types. As soon as we turned up the main high street was taken over by one of those weird old English summer traditions, and we were greeted by people running down the hill to chase oranges. As you do.

totnes gift shop
pet portraits in totnes
launderama sign totnes
orange race totnes
willow cafe totnes

We had a potter around and found a brilliant shop selling all sorts of weird and wonderful things, and stopped off at a veggie cafe called Willow, where we had some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted. For reals. After that it was off on a bus to Paignton, which is completely at the opposite end of the spectrum to Totnes.

battered chips in paignton lily doughball travel blogger in paignton

Imagine Weston-super-Mare times about a million, high on sugar and drunk on warm cider, and that’s Paignton. Don’t get me wrong, I love it just as much as I love Totnes, but for a completely different reason. There’s something oddly charming about a tacky seaside town, and we had loads of fun eating battered chips and even winning an Elsa in a grabby machine – just look at my little excited face!!

Jet2Holidays-postholidayblues

Of course, after every brilliant holiday comes home time, and that’s when the post-holiday blues kick in. Even looking back at these photos makes me miss our few days by the sea. I was sent this little package by Jet2Holidays to try and help me get over my woes at wanting to be back on holiday. I thought it was a nice little sentiment – even something as simple as a pizza treat and a couple of beauty bits to try and get that healthy sun-kissed glow back (haha, my skin is always this pale!) can be enough to perk you up and get you excited about your next adventure. Apparently binging on takeaways helps, although I can’t help feeling that booking another holiday might help too…

What do you reckon? Where shall I go to next?

Thanks to Jet2Holidays for my little box of treats, and to Cafe Alf Resco for such an amazing stay in Dartmouth.

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Manchester Adventure

Manchester adventure

A couple of weeks ago myself and the boy ventured to the wild North to pay a long overdue visit to his family, and while we were up there, took the opportunity to pop over to Manchester to see our awesome friends Maddy and Dev. I was proper excited to see what Manchester had to offer, considering this was my very first visit to the ‘rainy city‘.

We arrived late on Sunday afternoon and had a potter around Chorlton, where our lovely hosts reside, and went for some awesome pub grub at Horse and Jockey. To walk it off and wash it down we took a stroll to sink a pint of craft ale at the Beagle, which reminded me a bit of a better version of the Lounge in Bedmo – the decor was cosy, it wasn’t too packed, and the bar staff were lovely and chatty. So far, Manchester = 1, Bristol = 0.

cinnamon rolls, Manchester adventure
Manchester adventure map
trams in Manchester
Manchester adventure

Up bright and early in the morning, we had a breakfast treat of homemade cinnamon rolls, and perused this lovely Manchester adventure map that Madz lovingly put together, with all of her favourite places to visit, drink and eat on it. Not wanting to waste time in our adventure, we waved goodbye to Chorlton and set off for the centre.

A short stroll from Maddy’s abode we hopped on a tram (TRAM!!!) to the city centre, with our expert tour guide offering some history about the area. It zoomed over industrial parts, past the canal and all the new renovations, and made for a pretty interesting journey. Trams are something that Bristol seriously needs to get on board with, what with our atrocious bus system and all. Manchester = 2, Bristol = 0.

teacup kitchen northern quarter Manchester
Manchester adventure
Manchester adventure
 teacup kitchen Manchester mushrooms on toast
teacup kitchen Manchester rose tea and timer
heart shaped scone with jam and cream at teacup kitchen Manchester

First stop was a brew at Teacup Kitchen, so we could figure out a plan of action for the day. Owned by Mr Scruff, this Northern Quarter favourite is a little pricey (we’re talking £4.50 a cuppa pricey), but was well worth the money. In fact, some poor students came and sat down at the table next to us and decided to share a sandwich, and when it arrived there was definitely plenty for two.

We opted for a bite to eat each – Tom had some kind of mushroom-avocado-egg invention, while I plumped for a rosebud tea and the most adorable scone I had ever eaten. Manchester = 3… oh, you get the idea. My scone was super crumbly, and the jam is their homemade rose and strawberry invention. Delish.

pop boutique Manchester
neon sign pop boutique Manchester front door
pop boutique Manchester barber ella's
pop boutique Manchester
pop boutique Manchester vintage shop
pop boutique Manchester
shoes at pop boutique vintage shop Manchester

From here we decided to have a bit of a nosey around the rest of the Northern Quarter, and so popped over to Pop Boutique, for a little slice of vintage heaven. On first impressions it seems to be well stocked but a little small – despite the awesome barbers at the back – but downstairs hides a humongous treasure trove of vintage goods, including some gorgeous fugly 70s homewares. Got to love a bit of ugly tat. Tom got well into it, and ended up buying a biker jacket, while I sadly left empty handed.

museum of science and industry MOSI Manchester
museum of science and industry MOSI Manchester
steam engines at MOSI Manchester
steam engines at MOSI Manchester
museum of science and industry MOSI Manchester
museum of science and industry MOSI Manchester

A moderate walk away from the Northern Quarter is the Museum of Science and Industry, which we decided to stroll along to next. If you’re a history geek like me, then you will of course be interested in Manchester’s rich social history and industrial heritage. If not, you might want to skip this part.

This place is vast. There are several warehouses each housing a different attraction, my favourite of which was the whole room full of trains (TRAINS!!!), the history of the Manchester to Liverpool railway, or the interactive section of the museum, which was definitely for kids, but was full of adults. It reminded me a little bit of the awesome At-Bristol, with puzzles and science games for everyone to get involved with.

The best part about this though, is that this museum is completely free. We made a donation of a fiver, and spent a good few hours there exploring all the exhibits. It really is worth a visit if you’re up North, especially if you’re visiting with the kids.

After walking around a museum for a good few hours, we were pretty famished, and so walked back in the direction of the city centre to indulge one of my all time ultimate life goals…

Manchester adventure
Manchester adventure

WE WENT TO TACO BELL!

I’m not entirely sure how many of my readers are American, who will be looking quite questionably at my over-proportionate levels of excitement. There are only three Taco Bell’s in the UK, one of which is in the Manchester Arndale food court. I wasn’t expecting haute cuisine, but I was actually pleasantly surprised at the acceptable standard of the food – I know I’d definitely choose this over a McDonalds any day of the week, if only for the churros. Mmm… churros.

pineapple lamp oklahoma manchester
Oklahoma Manchester good egg easter card
oklahoma Manchester northern quarter pom poms in window
oklahoma vintage gift shop Manchester northern quarter

After all of our Taco Bell excitement, it was back to the Northern Quarter for a bit more shopping and a beer before catching our train home. I went to a delightful little shop called Oklahoma, packed with the most adorable trinkets and collectables, and bought a mini bee-house which is now proudly hanging in the sunniest spot in my garden.

We decided to tick another spot off our adventure map, and settled on Cane and Grain for a beer, which was excellent. Their selection of meaty dude food treats looked absolutely immense, but sadly we were too stuffed with Taco Bell to make room in our bellies. Next time!

As the day drew to a close, it was time to trek back up to Piccadilly and catch our train back home. We had an absolutely brilliant 24 hours (or thereabouts) in Manchester – massive thanks to my lovely pal Madz for letting us stay, the fab map, and all the awesome recommendations!

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The Creative Initiative #3

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I have to admit, the theme for this week’s creative initiative really threw me. It was ‘go outdoors’, and the more I thought about it, the more I seemed to panic, and eventually came to realise that, apart from my day to day work routine, I really don’t spend much time outside.

I’ve always been a bit of a hermit; when I was little I would much prefer to stay at home and read a book or paint something instead of roughing myself up on my bike outside. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love riding my bike, but in the dead of winter I like nothing more than hibernating indoors, preferably with a mug of ovaltine and a jacket potato.

One thing I do enjoy doing from time to time, however, is taking a little stroll down the canal path at lunchtime. I love boats (obviously, I live on one) and it is mine and Tom’s eventual plan to buy a narrowboat to live aboard permanently. During this time of year this stretch of the Kennet and Avon is home to a fair few narrowboats, and I like to take a little walk and peer jealously into the windows lamenting the fact that we don’t own one.

I am also completely perplexed by locks. I kind of understand how they work in principle, but the more I stare at their cracked and creaky Victorian working parts the more they seem to completely baffle me. There’s also something about their lack of water-tightness (it is obviously not crucial) which makes me even more distrustful.

Nevertheless, I enjoy my lunchtime strolls. I would have liked to do something more than take a few snaps, such as a sketch or a little painting or something, but my half-hour lunch break doesn’t seem to stretch that far. There is always next week!

If you would like to join in with the creative initiative, the rules are very simple:

• create something in based on this week’s prompt

• post about your artistic endeavour on your blog and link it up to this post

• comment on other bloggers’ posts – the prompts leave a lot of room to use your imagination and we should all support and encourage each other as we explore!

The theme for next week is ‘gratitude’.
It’s not too late to join in, and if you do create something be sure to post the links in the comments section so I can have a look!

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