31 Oct 2021

24 Hours Eating & Exploring In Bristol

 Bristol

On our way back from our week in Cornwall, we stopped off in Bristol to stay with my friend Dan for the weekend. Thanks to blady Covid, I hadn’t seen him for over 18 months so it was a well overdue reunion. Despite living just down the road from Bristol for 3 years and popping in to see friends in the time since, I still didn’t feel like I’d properly seen the city but luckily staying with Dan always means you have a truly excellent tour guide and tasty food stops along the way. 

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

What we did 

Despite the fact that it rained unbelievably hard pretty much constantly on our one full day (at one point, we actually had to wade through a flash river that suddenly started running down the street and I had to use a hairdryer on my drenched shoes), we managed to take in most of the key sites including all the cute side streets, city hall, the harbour and the big mirror ball that sits outside the science museum. Our main highlights were the Colston statue which you’ll know – unless you’ve been living under an actual bridge – was pulled down and thrown in the river last year during the Black Lives Matter protests. We started with the empty plinth and then went to see the statue itself which is on display at the Bristol museums. Then the street art - I said I wanted to see some of the street art that Bristol is famous for and it turns out it’s bloody everywhere? Bold and colourful, it’s hard to pick a favourite but the seagull comes close (see above). And finally, the Clifton Suspension Bridge which we hiked up to and then walked across, before hiking up to see it from above. It was very atmospheric in the pouring rain! 

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

Where we ate 

As Dan was responsible for booking the restaurants during our stay, I knew wherever we ate would be good and he did not disappoint. On Friday night, we headed to Bosco Pizzeria and I can confirm that these pizzas were dreamy. I had the Ventricina – salami, tomato, mozzarella, chilli oil and honey and I would recommend. The real highlight though was the incredible food at Pasta Loco. Guys, I was not prepared for this meal. When Dan said we were going for pasta I was a happy chappy because pasta is my favourite food. However, I was taken aback when he said this restaurant sometimes had a six-month waiting list. A pasta restaurant? In hindsight, that was clearly a sign we were going to eat somewhere good. The three of us settled down at our outside table under the heater which was cosy aside from the occasional wind tunnel effect. The menu changes on a regular basis but we obviously knew to expect pasta. I started with the merlot and parmesan arancini then moved on to the butacini with courgette, mint, chilli and a ricotta courgette flower (because of course) and finished off with the almond & peach frangipani. It’s hard to explain just why it was so good but each course tasted incredible and by the time we got to the end of the meal, Gary put down his cutlery and boldly declared it was one of the best restaurants we have ever been to. I highly recommend. 

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol

22 Oct 2021

Reading Recap: The Books I Read In September

September reads

I spent most of the summer gently re-reading all the Harry Potter books which are the perfect holiday reads in my opinion. Here’s what I read whilst I not-so-patiently waited for the cooler temperatures to arrive this September: 

 

Pride and Premeditation – Tirzah Price  

A re-telling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice where Lizzie works at her father’s law firm and is determined to prove herself as a lawyer. It’s not going to blow you away but it’s a fun read and I enjoyed all the different interpretations of the well-known characters thrown into a classic whodunit. 3/5 

 

The Salt Path – Raynor Winn  

A memoir about a couple who lost their home, livelihood and he diagnosed with a terminal illness in the space of one week. With nothing left, they impulsively decided to walk the 630-mile South West Coast path. It’s an extraordinary story that I found absolutely fascinating. An incredible read. 5/5 

 

How To Kill Your Family – Bella Mackie 

A hilariously dark romp, told from the perspective of brutally witty anti-hero Grace who has killed several people but currently resides in jail for a murder she didn’t commit. The social commentary will make you snort and it’s impossible not to root for Grace despite her most grisly crimes. I didn’t love the ending as much as the rest of the book but would still highly recommend. 4/5 


Happy reading folks x 


20 Oct 2021

Pregnancy | The Second Trimester

Pregnancy second trimester

If the first trimester felt like time stood still, the second seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. 

My morning sickness faded away at 12 weeks which was an absolute bloody relief but I will admit that the whole ‘you will feel great in the second trimester’ thing was a disappointment at first. I still seriously lacked in energy, my appetite still felt off and the hormones – wow. Any other pregnant women ever seriously considered whether they might just murder the drunk teenager on the train? No? Oh right, me neither…  I have never been so irritable or so inexplicably homicidal apparently. My hormones felt wildly out of control; I was overwhelmed by it and, to top it off, pregnancy heartburn kicked in like a literal fire. Twice it got so bad that I was physically sick which, naturally, was a joy to behold. ‘Pregnancy glow’ my arse. 

And then 20 weeks came around and it was like someone had flicked a switch. My energy began to creep up, I discovered Gaviscon in liquid form (I now just swig this like a bloke swigging whiskey from a hipflask) and those weird feelings in my belly turned into unmistakable nudges. We had our 20-week scan, discovered the sex of our little bub and saw them in all their glory; perfectly formed and healthy. It was a turning point. I felt like my personality had returned and I finally understood what people mean when they refer to the ‘honeymoon’ period of pregnancy. 

Alright, so I can no longer sleep through the night without my bladder repeatedly waking me up, the boobs leaking (talk about early to the party) or the heartburn flaring, sitting down for long periods is getting uncomfortable and if we go away, I have to take my own pillows with me like a proper little princess (oh and let’s not even discuss how much Gaviscon I’m getting through in a week). But, the second half of the second trimester had me feeling my most normal and energetic. And those baby kicks make it all feel very special. I could sit and watch my belly moving for hours; it is so fascinating. And yes, I talk to them in a stupid baby voice. Can’t help it. Soz not soz. 

We are doing a couple of antenatal courses, have been pram shopping and are starting to prepare the nursery, but I probably am still in denial about how fast my due date is approaching. Where are the weeks disappearing to?! Safe to say we are on the home stretch now. If anyone wants to bring me cushions and snacks on, say, an hourly basis for the entirety of the third trimester then that would be grand... 

19 Oct 2021

Just In Time For Battenberg

Battenberg

This article first appeared on Mishmash Food.

My memories of arriving at my grandparents’ cottage all involve food. If we arrived around lunchtime, there was always a good spread (think quiche, cheese, sausage rolls), eaten in the dining room. If it were mid-morning or mid-afternoon - or any other time of day really - it was tea and cake eaten at the kitchen table. This was slightly more chaotic as the kitchen table only seated four, so there was always someone leaning against the fridge, putting the kettle on or washing up. My Grandma would be up and down out of her chair several times to do plenty of fussing. She liked a good fuss, my Grandma. Absolutely nobody was going hungry on her watch. 


In the tea-and-cake scenario, grandchildren and adults alike were encouraged to rummage around in the bottom kitchen cupboard furthest to the left which contained all manner of treats. A biscuit tin, Penguin chocolate bars and always, without fail, a Mr Kipling Battenberg. If, somehow, you’ve gone through life without encountering a Battenberg cake, let me enlighten you. It is essentially a chequerboard of yellow and pink sponge sandwiched together with jam and wrapped in marzipan. It is incredibly fun for children (and adults) to eat, partly because it’s multicoloured - and who doesn’t love multicoloured food - and partly because a slice of Battenberg can be disassembled with sticky fingers. I used to peel off the marzipan so I was left with a long edible ribbon that I could hold high above my head and engulf in one huge almond-y mouthful. I would then pull each square apart, popping them onto my tongue like little sweets. Of course, adults can love Battenberg for these reasons as well but I’ve noticed it’s less socially acceptable for us to eat it this way. We’re expected to bite through all the squares in one go and I admit this makes me wince, just a little. 


For my Grandma’s funeral, when thinking of what cakes should be eaten amongst our quiet grief, it felt like Battenberg was an essential. So, somewhat spontaneously, I had a go at making it myself for the first time: two bowls of simple vanilla sponge cake batter, one dyed a pretty pink with food colouring, baked in a square tin lined with baking parchment that has a neat fold down the middle to keep the two batters separate. To assemble, once the cakes have cooled completely, place one cake on top of the other and trim so they are both the same size. Then cut each cake in half lengthways and sandwich the four pieces together chequerboard-style using warmed apricot jam. Spread the jam around the outside and wrap the whole thing in pre-rolled marzipan (shop-bought in my case). Trim the ends so you can see those distinctive squares. 


Reader, my first attempt did not look like a Mr Kipling Battenberg. It was uneven, a little lumpy and the squares were, well, rectangular. I’d hoped for better. ‘It’s just a cake’ I told myself, trying not to project too many of my emotions onto the sticky marzipan. But then I tasted it, pulling the sponge apart as I did so, and it tasted just like Grandma and Grandad’s cottage. I could see Grandma fussing and calling me ‘treasure’ and Grandad encouraging me to eat more cake when Mum wasn’t looking, and then winking at me like a mischievous child when we both got caught. 


It is just a cake. But the thing with food is that it’s never just a cake because, regardless of how it looks, one marzipan mouthful can invoke memories of people and places the moment it hits your tastebuds. Though I will never sit in Grandma and Grandad’s kitchen again, I can briefly be back there with a bite of Battenberg. 

8 Oct 2021

Little Gems: 37 | Recent Happy Things

 Recent happy things

Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it… How is it October already?! Yeah, you said it. 

Not sure if it’s the pregnancy or the fact we spent the first half of the year in lockdown but it really does feel like 2021 vanished. Also not helped by the fact that I spent most of September laden down with a cold & chest infection. Tell you what lads, I will never ever take cold & flu tablets or proper cough medicine (which you can’t take when pregnant) for granted again. What I would have given for some kind of decongestant I tell ya. Anyway, enough about my bodily functions, here’s some of the good stuff from recent weeks:

A wedding! It was just so bloody lovely to go to a wedding, one free of covid restrictions and finally able to go ahead after multiple postponements. And there were fireworks and who doesn’t bloody love fireworks?!

Pizza @ Scott’s All Day. After a lil pram shopping session (surprisingly fun), Gary and I went for lunch at Scott’s All Day in Cambridge and those were some sexy pizzas. Ngl, the mac n cheese bites were sadly disappointing but the pizzas absolutely made up for it. Would recommend. 

& Chai candles. Autumn hits, I buy candles. Can’t help it. I bought one of these & Chai candles last year and fell in love with both the gorgeous scent and the wooden wick which crackles like a real fire. So I invested in two more this year – the Sundaze and the Evermore (love the Taylor reference) and they both smell uh-mazing. 

Gordon’s non-alcoholic gin. Shout out to my friend Claire for recommending this to me because it is by far the best non-alcoholic gin I have come across. I genuinely cannot tell the difference and it’s really stepped up to the mark in those moments where I fancy something a bit snazzier than a coke whilst with non-pregnant drinkers. 

An autumnal cabin in Norfolk. We went back to where we went glamping last year, only this time we stayed in the little cabin on site instead. The weather did not play ball and I was having regular coughing fits but we had a lovely cosy time all the same. 

Isabella Oliver maternity clothes. Bit of a niche one but finding decent, flattering maternity clothes has not been that easy and I love the fit and quality of these clothes. They’re also environmentally conscious and have options to rent and I’m just all-round a big fan.  

A weekend in the Peak District. After a temporary hiatus last year, the girls and I went on our annual country weekend away, bringing the other halves along this time. We stayed in a gorgeous house (with a to-die-for bath) in the beautiful countryside and it was all-round lovely. So weird to think that the next time we’re together, there will be babies (yes, plural) amongst us. 

Teddy bear baby outfits. HOW can I possibly resist?

No Time To Die. Been patiently waiting for this one to come out since booking tickets to go see it in March 2020, so I was a happy bunny when I finally sat down in the cinema with an enormous bag of popcorn. I suspect this may be my last cinema trip for a while (not that there’s been many of them in recent times, sadly) and it felt like an excellent film for my temporary last hurrah. THAT ENDING THOUGH. 

Autumn TV. Speaking of good viewing, I love the tellybox at this time of year. There’s so much good stuff on. Loved Vigil, loving series two of The Morning Show and let’s not forget my ultimate fave, Bake Off, which is bringing me joy every week.