Heigh Ho. I went to Bristol!
And what a marvellous time I had. If you recall, a few weeks ago, I told you that I was going on an independent press trip.
Yes, I was the guest of Visit Bristol who were incredible as were the very people of Bristol themselves and as a result, my press trip was personally designed with my interests and passions in mind.
Thank you so much for your generosity and allowing me press access to various sights and venues.
So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO BRISTOL?
When tourists and travellers think of England, they think of destinations such as London and Big Ben, Manchester (yay!) and textile powerhouses. They think of OxBridge and a history of intellectual minds. They think of Avon and Shakespeare, the Beatles and Liverpool. But do they ever think of places such as the Lake District, the Peak Districts, the Yorkshire Dales, the Isle of Wight or the Cotswolds?
Do they ever think of Bristol?
But where is it?
Well, Bristol is a county in South West England. It is England’s sixth (6th) most populous city and has a population of about 400,000 people. It began life as a village Brycgstow in Anglo-Saxon times and changed to Brigg stow – Bristol sometime in the 10th century.
Bristol’s history as a trading and important river location stretches back to 1051 when it was listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. By the 14th century, Bristol was trading with Spain, Portugal and Iceland, and ships were leaving Bristol to find colonies in the New World and for sadly, that awful blot, that was to become known as the slave trade. In the last two hundred (200) years, Bristol has transformed and grown into a busy commercial port and in modern times, a striving destination to visit due to the Harbourside’s renaissance with contemporary art, theatre performances, literature, history and heritage of the local people. It has also begun to fuse it’s historically elegant Georgian and Victorian architecture with contemporary modernity.
My goal was to visit and introduce a new destination that perhaps many of you have never heard of, so in the next few weeks, I will be introducing you to the delights of an English weekend and how to have it all, and some, in just 48 hours!
I wanted to see for myself if indeed, Bristol would burst with character and charm. If Bristol would be enveloped within the home of a historical harbour as well as the modern setting of a young university city. If Bristol would be able to offer fascinating attractions, interesting culture, as well as impressive shopping, so I’m going to go backwards and start with the food and then next week, I’m going to tell you what to do in Bristol and where to stay. Get ready for surprises!
So back to food.
Yum! Yum! Yum!
One of the reasons that I wanted to go to Bristol was to try out the food.
If you recall, I live in Germany and yes, Germany has a reputation for stodge and yes, even though Berlin is a continental hot-spot, crammed with international restaurants over-flowing with cosmopolitan flair, we hardly have anything British at all!
We only have a single restaurant called East London.
A single restaurant!!
It’s a scandal!
It’s no surprise that I was desperate for some English nosh and Bristol is where I got it!
Here we go:
GO FORTH AND HAVE AN ENGLISH BREAKFAST!
Part of what made my visit a success was the breakfast that I had every morning.
It was lovely.
The breakfast staff took some time to warm up to me but by the evening, we were the best of friends, and they were eager to accommodate changes in the breakfast delivery!
And what did I have?
More to the point what should you have whenever you’re in England or anywhere else in Ireland or the British Isles? A Full English, Irish, Welsh or Scottish. That’s what?
How about a plate of crispy smoked streaky bacon, sausages, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes and fried eggs?
Perhaps smoked streaky bacon with scrambled eggs on sour dough bread?
What say you to a steaming bowl of porridge dribbled over with honey, slices of strawberries, raspberries and blue berries? Mmm!
And if that doesn’t take your fancy, how about a refreshing glass of Scottish Cranacha – a mixture of whipped cream or yoghurt, jam, honey, toasted oatmeal or home-made muesli with fruit and a little bit of whisky! Since I don’t eat nuts, I had the cream, with jam, cornflakes and fruit.
I left out the whisky LOL!
LUNCH TIME SNACKS
Whenever I’m in England, I like to have a lunchtime snack of prawn and cocktail sandwiches, so I went to the High Street on Broadmead and bought some at Marks & Spencers (M&S).
Oh, I do love my sarnies!
And if I’m being particularly naughty, I go ahead and get myself a portion of chips. I found a pretty good ration on the Harbourside at a local place called Brunel’s Buttery. Let me tell you, chips (not fries!) are best eaten with salt and vinegar and if I’m lucky, wrapped up in newspaper LOL!
My highlight however, were not “real” chips but actually, a sausage roll. Yes, a bit of pork rolled up in pastry and served warmly. A sausage roll with the crumbs gently rolling into my mouth! Heeeeeaven!
On my last afternoon in Bristol, I decided to walk to Bristol’s most exclusive suburb – Clifton Village. Now I didn’t actually plan to walk all the way there originally. It sort of just happened and well, you know how I like a good walk! Clifton Village features pretty streets, fine boutiques, vintage shopping and the University of Bristol. It was raining but I still spent quite an energetic afternoon darting in and out of second-hand book shops whilst, looking for gifts, trying to avoid getting too wet, and wheezing my way all the way up to (ironically) The Downs!
The Downs has amazing views over the Avon Gorge and a few minutes away was the Avon Gorge Hotel where a reservation had been made on my behalf!
Now I don’t know about you but when having a meal in a classy hotel, one of the things that makes it so, is the sight perspective that it affords whether of the people, or it’s surroundings. The Avon Gorge Hotel has one of the best settings in the UK as it offers unparalleled views of Brunel’s grade-one-listed Clifton Suspension Bridge. A bridge said to be one of the greatest bridges in the world!
I was here to indulge in the luxury of Afternoon Tea in a historic setting.
I was given a really good table and even though it was pouring down, I still had a marvellous view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. There were a wide variety of Afternoon Teas to choose from starting from toasted Clifton tea cake, butter & jam, to the luxurious Bridge Café Champagne Afternoon Tea.
The Afternoon Tea was brilliant.
I chose the Champagne Afternoon Tea.
No surprises there!!
There was a selection of finger sandwiches filled with ham, cheese, salmon and cucumber. I also had two huge home-made scones, a pot of strawberry jam, a huge pot of yummy clotted cream, cream cheese and watercress leaves stuffed in a ball, a slice of chocolate, a slice of orange polenta and a delicious fruit pavlova.
And of course, your choice of a pot of tea.
The selection was presented on a wooden board (certainly different!) and the combination of sandwiches, scones and little cake slices was pleasurable.
I loved it and was utterly stuffed, so much so, that I had to discreetly ask the hotel staff to arrange half of the stuff as a bit of a take-away! They happily obliged. The Afternoon Tea was everything I expected and more.
The premises were in a lovely hotel and was reasonably priced. All around were tables of groups, friends and couples and the staff were attentive and friendly, constantly checking that I was OK, as I was dining alone.
Cost – £21.95 or €31.15 per person.
Would I recommend it?
I was going to the theatre at the Bristol Old Vic to see an outstanding performance of The Crucible so it was imperative that I had an early pre-theatre dinner. I chose to chomp some excellent nosh at a restaurant called The Cowshed.
The Cowshed is a restaurant whose motto is plain and simple – to serve good, British food with an emphasis on quality, locally sourced ingredients, in a relaxed and comfortable environment.
I arrived at 18:00 by taxi, and reserved another one to take me to the theatre after dinner…!
The Cowshed was in a really nice area not far from Bristol University in Clifton! The restaurant was very nicely furnished with distressed brick walls, attractive staff, an open kitchen and their partner – Ruby & White Butchers – next door.
I was given a window seat so I used my seating optimisation to observe others around me.
It’s a cool trendy place with a mixed clientele. On the one hand, I saw a hipster father with his two teenaged children and on the other hand, I saw a group of young professionals who came in straight from work and various couples in their mid-20’s!
By 18:30, the restaurant began to fill up and I took the time to look outside the window as well.
Honestly! You know you’re in England when you see about ten (10) girls dressed up as elves disembark from a taxi, or about twenty (20) young people wearing ponchos and sombrero hats, and walking calmly down the street LOL!
I’m so sorry about the awful picture. I hope to find another one. Perhaps the description below would better suffice!
I had the wood pigeon breast served with pigeon leg, scotched egg, beetroot with a bacon crumb. It was served on a wooden board and decorated stretched across with dollops of cream in two places, the beetroot cut into triangles like an ancient sundial, the pigeon breast served delicate and tender, with a scotch egg.
I have absolutely no idea the last time I actually had a scotch egg!
For the British food virgins among you, a scotch egg is a (usually) hard-boiled egg wrapped in pork sausage meat mixed with herbs and spices, coated and rolled in breadcrumbs and baked or deeply fried. It used to be the bane of my childhood but here I was actually enjoying it!
My starter also had the bacon crumbs sprinkled with freshly cut herbs.
Cost – £6.50 or €9.21.
The Cowshed is best known for it’s locally reared, hand-picked organic meat and for those of you who like steak, you’ll be in heaven! I’m not a vegetarian of course, but I’m not big on beef either, lamb on the other hand…
For my main dish, I had the roasted guinea fowl breast served with a confit leg dumpling, salt baked beetroot, thyme potatoes, and mirabelle plum. Without the truffled hazelnuts! The guinea fowl was softly firm and tasted nice and sweet with chunks of beetroot, square-cubed potatoes, a stuffed cabbage ball, with a swirling of plum sauce and gravy!
Cost – £19.50 or €27.55.
For my dessert, I had the lemon and raspberry parfait served in a white chocolate pyramid with meringue tears and lemon gel. I don’t like chocolate but this, I could absolutely live with!
Just look at that delicate swirl of raspberry and the bite of white chocolate ice-cream with a raspberry centre crunch!
Cost – £6.50 or €9.21.
Nom! Nom! Nom!
Would I recommend it?
That’s it for now.
p.s. My thoughts and condolences to the people of France over the horrors that took place in Paris. On Friday.
I have so much to share with you so I will be writing more about Bristol next week!
November is beginning to be another summer!
Watch this space!
Have you ever had an English Breakfast? Would you like some Afternoon Tea?
See you in Berlin.