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Europe, Travel, UK

Escape Hunt Bristol – The Last Samurai Review

April 16, 2018

Okay so escape rooms are my new favourite thing. A few weeks ago I headed to Bristol’s newest escape room in Cabot Circus not really knowing what to expect and I honestly think I could do one every week now.

I’ve wanted to try an escape room for ages so when I was invited to try out ‘The Last Samurai’ themed room at Escape Hunt Bristol, I jumped at the chance. So I armed myself with 3 others and headed to Cabot Circus with a mix of nerves and excitement.

We were all escape room virgins and had no idea what to expect. How hard would it be? Would it be scary? Would we get trapped in the room forever?

We were greeted by our games master, Cody who sat us down and explained all the rules and regulations and then got us hyped and ready to play! Before we knew it we were being led into the room and had 60 minutes to escape!

It’s no phones in the room, you’ve just got your mind and your team mates to help you escape. Obviously I won’t give anything away here as I wouldn’t want to spoil your experience but it’s SO MUCH FUN. There’s lots of different types of clues and challenges which play to different people’s strengths so you’re forced to work together.

After 48 minutes, we made it out! We were absolutely buzzing afterwards and could have gone straight in to a different room if we had a chance, I didn’t want the experience to end! Cody calmed us down with a glass of prosecco each and let us take some pictures with the Samurai props which was fun.

We all had such a good time and can’t wait to come back in May to try out the WW2 themed room. Thanks for the invite Escape Hunt!

Myself and 3 guests received free entry to Escape Hunt Bristol in return for a blog post – but it was so much fun and you really really need to go!

Europe, Travel, UK

Being Brunel – Bristol’s Newest Attraction

April 7, 2018

If you’re local to Bristol, you would have heard about the new Being Brunel museum that has recently opened next to the SS Great Britain. I was lucky enough to visit the day after it opened and had a chance to explore with a group of bloggers and their families. Being a proud Bristolian (without the accent though haha), I was so excited to visit. I went to the SS Great Britain on a primary school trip years ago and my only memory is of low ceilings and scary wax work people.

The new museum is a great mix of interactive displays and personal artefacts from Brunel and his family and work colleagues. There were plenty of families with young children visiting and with actors dressed up and a moving train carriage, they’ll definitely be entertained. I loved that there were so many artefacts hidden away in drawers that you were encouraged to open. You can see why your ticket price includes unlimited revisits for a year because there is so much to see!

The huge Brunel in the main room houses a gateway into Brunel’s ‘mind’ so you can experience life in the 1800s. You can also explore Brunel’s office which has been fully restored so you can see where he designed the SS Great Britain.

I was so surprised at just how much I learnt about Brunel. I didn’t even know that the Clifton Suspension Bridge was finished after Brunel died! The team at the SS Great Britain Trust have done a great job and I’m sure Being Brunel will soon become one of Bristol’s biggest attractions.

After walking around the Being Brunel museum, we decided to explore the SS Great Britain for the first time in years. I don’t remember being able to walk under the ship before so that was quite cool but the ship itself is still full of the scary wax work people. In fact, now that they’re 15 years older, they’re probably even scarier!

When we left (about 3 hours after we arrived) there was a queue to get in so I hope the opening weekend was a success. It’s an ideal way to spend a few hours learning more about the man who shaped Bristol.

Have you visited the SS Great Britain or the Being Brunel museum yet? What did you think?

I received 2 free tickets for the Being Brunel museum in exchange for a review. Adult tickets are usually £16.50 and provide unlimited revisits for 12 months. 

Europe, Travel, UK

Bristol Airport – AspirePlus Lounge – An Honest Review

March 10, 2018

If you’re thinking of paying to use the AspirePlus Lounge at Bristol Airport, then I  suggest you have a read of my review first. I paid to use the AspirePlus Lounge myself, so this is an honest and unbiased review.

Unless you’re flying for work purposes, usually the airport is the first chance to treat yourself as your holiday begins. Whatever the time is, OF COURSE you’re going to have a drink. Bar snacks? Stack them up! This is what me and Stu tend to get up to before we go away but the day we flew to Iceland was actually Stu’s birthday so I wanted to do something a little extra as a surprise. So when I got the email from Bristol airport recommending I book one of the lounges, it seemed like the perfect birthday treat.

First of all, you have the choice of the Aspire Lounge or AspirePlus. The main difference is that kids aren’t allowed in the AspirePlus lounge and this was probably the main reason I paid a bit extra and went for the Plus option which came to about £30 each. It also sounded like a wider selection of food and drink and when you consider that Stu and I love food, it was a no-brainer. Booking through the website is really simple, you just select what time you’ll be arriving and then print off the booking confirmation. The confirmation also comes with clear instructions on actually finding AspirePlus once you’re through to the departure lounge.

We were flying to Iceland fairly early (about 8 am) so got to AspirePlus about 6 am. The perfect time for a cooked breakfast and a cheeky pint or prosecco before our flight! We walked into the lounge and there was no one else there. I don’t just mean any other guests, there didn’t seem to be anyone working there. We kind of hovered in the entrance for a moment or two and then decided to just go and take a seat. Once we sat down, a member of staff appeared and asked to see our booking confirmation. They then pointed us towards the bar where the food was laid out ready for us to help ourselves. The staff member then asked if we’d like any drinks from the bar (obviously we said yes). I noticed when we were at the bar that we weren’t going to be having many alcoholic drinks this morning. They have a sign stating that your first drink will be served as normal. On your second drink, you will be reminded that you won’t be admitted on to an aircraft drunk and your third drink will be your last. Admittedly, we probably wouldn’t have had 3 drinks anyway but it just felt like a bit of a killjoy. I guess it needs to be there though as some people will take full advantage of ‘free’ alcohol.

So, the food. Like most ‘all you can eat’/help yourself restaurants, the plates are much smaller than you’d like. This is obviously a tactic to stop people eating a ridiculous amount but it never deters me or Stu. If we have to go up 3 or 4 times until we feel full, so be it. I can see why some people would feel bad for going up this many times though and that’s how these sort of places make their money.

There was a fairly good selection of hot and cold food and we both had a bit of both. As it was a buffet style, you don’t know how long the food has been sat there and a lot of the hot food had pieces of kitchen roll laid over the top. It’s not that appealing to have to peel back the kitchen roll to get to your beans but it all tasted fine. There was a sign that advised that pancakes could be ordered from a member of staff but neither of us got any. I did the standard thing you do at a buffet and chose an array of items that don’t quite go together on one plate. I’m talking bacon and sausages next to a croissant and some shortbread. It’s a great way to start a holiday haha.

As I mentioned before, all the food was fine. Not mind blowing but good enough. Should somewhere called AspirePlus serve more than ‘good enough’ food? It doesn’t quite meet expectations. There’s a few nice places to eat in Bristol Airport which offer much nicer food, just not in a private lounge.

One thing we found was that it wasn’t the easiest to eat your food because the tables are much lower than the seats so you have to kind of hunch over. It didn’t bother us too much but isn’t the best for your back.

After a bit of peace and quiet? This may be the perfect place for you to start your trip. But for me, there’s a difference between somewhere being peaceful and somewhere having zero atmosphere. It felt awkward to talk in a normal speaking voice for god’s sake!

I understand that they need to make money, but the lounge didn’t seem to be designed to do what people go there for. You feel awkward for drinking, awkward for asking for the additional food and when you have the food, it’s awkward to eat. In all honesty, I wouldn’t hurry back. I’m much happier having my breakfast in the Brunel bar with the masses.

Have you ever used a private lounge in an Airport? What was your experience like?

Health & Fitness, Travel, UK

HarSpa at Bristol Harbour Hotel

December 18, 2017

Christmas may be the time of giving but I’m a big believer in looking after yourself so when I was invited to Bristol Harbour Hotel‘s spa facilities, I made sure I could attend.

I’d had a busy day at work and then rushed to the Harbour Hotel. Recently opened, this was my first visit so I had no idea what to expect. The entrance was fairly standard of a nice hotel but the spa is the hidden gem of this building.

The building used to be a bank and the spa has been built within the original bank vaults. It’s so cool! I’m talking curved ceilings, big vault doors and lots of twists and turns. It’s worth a visit just to see the vault doors to be honest!

I was greeted by the spa manager Kayley who booked me in for my treatment later in the evening and I then got to catch up with the other Bristol bloggers with a glass of prosecco. To get us in the Christmas spirit, we were soon given Christmas pudding cocktails. I had no idea what this would taste like and it was basically very very strong. I’m still not sure what the main flavour was…

Kayley then told us more about the spa and the express spa treatments that have been introduced recently. Kayley is so passionate about the Harbour Spa and it’s clearly got a very exciting future. It’s a beautiful hotel in a great location so I’m sure the new spa will be very popular in the area.

Before long it was time for my treatment! I decided to go for a head and scalp massage. Walking to my treatment room, I got a sneak peek of the pool area and other relaxation spaces. It looked incredible and somewhere I’d love to spend a few hours. My massage was an absolute dream and I’m pretty sure I did almost start dreaming at one point… I felt so relaxed and my masseuse clearly explained all the products and what she would be doing. I love that feeling after a massage when you feel completely rejuvenated and even this little taster gave me that feeling. I can’t wait to return for a longer spa visit.

After my treatment I got to have a little look around the rest of the hotel. If you’re ever in the area then you need to check out the incredible Gold Bar. Ideal for some Christmas cocktails!

As always, I’m incredibly grateful that this blog offers me the chance to review beautiful places like this and this taster evening reminded me how much I love a spa day. You don’t always think of visiting somewhere so close to home but I’ll definitely be booking a visit in early next year!

Whether you’re after a last minute Christmas gift or want to get 2018 off to a relaxing start, make sure you check out the treatments available at the Harbour Spa!

 

Europe, Travel, UK

Bristol Zoo Twilights

July 16, 2017

The zoo is a great day out in Bristol but like all things these days can be ridiculously expensive, especially if you’re taking the whole family. Luckily Bristol Zoo open the doors on certain Friday evenings throughout the Summer and for just £5 each, you get to visit all your favourite enclosures, enjoy some live music and visit the newly refurbished restaurant, The Hide.


When I visited a couple of weeks ago with a group of other Bristol bloggers, it was my first visit to Bristol Zoo in years. We were lucky enough to have a quick private tour of the Zoo before the doors were opened to the public. If I’m being honest, I’m not 100% sure if I like zoos. The conservation work that they do is great and goes someway to make up for the slightly sketchy history that many zoos have, but I still find it a bit uncomfortable to see birds restricted to netted areas and to stare at a gorilla behind a pane of glass when they’re so similar to us. Bristol Zoo are doing the best they can and it’s clear that the staff are really passionate about their areas and want the best for all the animals.


That aside, the seals seemed to be having a whale of a time (see what I did there?) and I did let out a little squeal when I saw the red panda. I swear it’s the first time I’ve seen a red panda awake. They’re definitely my spirit animal!


Bristol Zoo is currently home to the Dinomania exhibition. As you walk around the Zoo, you’ll spot these huge interactive dinosaurs nestled between the animal enclosures. They look so impressive and the kids in our group loved them. Watch out for the one that sprays water though…


After our tour, we got to visit the Zoo’s restaurant, The Hide. If you’ve visited Bristol Zoo before, you probably remember a large canteen area with no personality which sold expensive junk food. It’s been completely refurbished and is now beautiful inside. Modern interiors are paired with an updated menu. It’s still a bit pricey but is actually worth the money now. We got to try a few of the sharing boards which included pizza, sausages, tortilla chips and bread and dips. We all agreed that the food was really good and would visit just for lunch if we could.




The next Friday Twilights session is on the 4th August and I might be going again with some work pals. Don’t miss out on visiting the Zoo for just £5!

I was given a complimentary ticket to the zoo but all views are my own!

Europe, Travel, UK

Exploring Brighton

March 6, 2017

Last weekend, Stu and I booked a half day at work on the Friday and then drove down to Brighton for the weekend to spend some time with friends we met in Australia. Time as always has flown by and it’s been a year since they came and stayed with us in Bristol. I have no idea why it’s always so hard to meet up with people. Why is everyone (including me) so busy?!


Brighton is one of the places in the UK that I’ve always wanted to visit but never had an excuse to go before. Growing up, Brighton was very most associated with being the gay capital of the UK but I think people now appreciate what a cool city it is rather than only thinking about the people that live there. That’s definitely been helped by the huge blogger and youtuber presence in the city.

We booked in to an Airbnb for the weekend which we mainly picked because it had a parking space and we’d been warned that parking can be a nightmare in Brighton. It was a cute little bungalow which was perfect for us to use as a base whilst exploring the city. We were probably a 10 minute drive from the centre but on a bus route and Brighton now has Uber so it was really handy for us.


Brighton definitely has two sides to it. You’ve got the typical British seaside resort with the Pier and your fish and chip shops and then you’ve got all the quirky bars and restaurants and the vintage shops which line the Laines. I loved exploring the Laines. It’s got a similar sort of atmosphere to Camden and it’s packed full of people who look far too cool for me. I’d love to wear all vintage clothes but I get sucked in by the high street and end up wearing your standard fashions rather than anything unusual.



Brighton Pier is like any other Pier you’ve visited, it’s a complete contrast from the Laines but it’s good fun if you take it for what it is. Expect penny slot machines, candy floss and plenty of fish and chips. Storm Doris was still kicking around when we walked along the Pier so we look completely windswept in all the photos and didn’t stay for too long! I’m pretty sure another bar was beckoning us away from the wind.



We didn’t actually go ‘out out’ in Brighton but we did visit a few bars and took full advantage of any two for 1 cocktail deals we could find. If you stay away from the chain bars then most places have a very studenty feel which I always like. Bars like that usually have cheap drinks and good music which is a win win for me!

It was a flying visit to Brighton so I definitely want to visit again. Hopefully next time there will be less chance of being blown over by Doris and I can have an ice cream in the sunshine!

UK

The Natural History Museum, London.

October 21, 2016

A couple of weekends ago, Stu and I went to London for the day. It wasn’t for a special occasion or anything, I just had a voucher for Vapiano which we wanted to use! As much as we love the food there, we knew we couldn’t spend the whole day eating Italian food and it was due to rain most of the day. We wanted to plan a few things to do because there’s nothing worse than being stuck outside in the rain, without any idea where to go. Our grand planning session resulted in me suggesting the Natural History Museum. Neither of us had been there for years, it’s easy to get to and no ticket necessary!

natural-history-museum-entrance

We probably got to the Natural History museum about an hour after it opened. There was a bit of a queue to get in but it wasn’t raining and there were a couple of PokeStops nearby so we didn’t mind waiting. After about 15 minutes or so, we were in the doors and completely overwhelmed as to which way to go and what to see first. We decided to wing it and ignore the maps and just have a wander around.

london-museum-dippy

The museum is HUGE. There are so many different sections to it and you could easily spend hours there. Some parts get a bit crowded so avoid going on a Saturday if get a bit claustrophobic. My advice would be to take a break. It gets tiring walking around, you’ll definitely need some snacks!

natural-history-musuem-globe

Like all museums, there are bound to be parts that you enjoy more than others. I loved the dinosaur exhibition but get a bit creeped out by all the taxidermy. I seem to be in the minority with this opinion as the main crowds are around the big stuffed animals.

london-dinosaur

Being a big tourist attraction for families, there’s lots of interactive exhibitions and these are by far the best bits. There’s one game where you have to try and keep a human alive for as long as possible. Let’s just say that Stu and I won’t offer to babysit anyone for a little while…

Have you been to the Natural History Museum recently? What did you think?

 

Europe, UK

Afternoon Tea at Thornbury Castle

August 9, 2016

For Valentines Day, Stu bought me a voucher for Afternoon Tea at Thornbury Castle and we finally got round to going last month. Tea and cake is always worth the wait, especially when you’re sat in a castle!

Our afternoon tea was booked in on a sunny Sunday afternoon so Thornbury Castle looked stunning. If you’re travelling by car, you arrive by driving past the vine yard and then under an archway into the Tudor castle grounds to park.


Our host sat us down on the comfiest armchairs in one of the castle’s drawing rooms where our table was already prepared for us. There were a few more guests that had already been served their afternoon tea but the whole atmosphere was very quiet and relaxed. You could tell everyone was savouring the experience rather than rushing through a meal.

Shortly after sitting down we were asked to select a type of tea from a selection on a menu.  I went for a green tea (my standard choice) and Stu chose Earl Grey. Our choices were then brought over to us in little tea pots which were kept topped up throughout the experience. All the teas are served loose so you need to remember to use the tea strainer. Stu forgot once so had a couple of stray leaves lurking at the bottom of his cup!


Next up was the main event, the sandwiches, scones and cakes! When the selection was put in front of us we were sure that we could manage to eat it all but it’s surprising how quickly you fill up on cake! All of the food was lovely and was obviously freshly prepared, the scones were still warm!


I expect the menu changes season to season but ours was delicious. The sandwich fillings included, crayfish, ham, cucumber and egg (not all in one haha!). We then moved on to the scones. You’re served two enormous scones each, one plain and one fruit but both equally yummy. The cakes consisted of a berry tart, carrot cake, coffee cake and a mint and dark chocolate macaroon. Definitely too much for us to eat in one sitting and it’s not often that Stu and I can’t finish a meal!


We had a lovely afternoon at Thornbury Castle so thank you to the staff who couldn’t do enough to make us feel welcome and thank you to Stu for the present. Happy Valentines Day!

 

Europe, Travel, UK

An Evening with Brooks Hotels Ltd

July 11, 2016

I was recently invited to Brooks Guesthouse Bristol to celebrate the launch of their newest hotel – Brooks Country House in Hereford. This will be the fourth for the Brooks Hotels Ltd brand, with the other two in Bath and Edinburgh.


Carla Brooks, who runs this fantastic chain with her husband, invited some local Bristol bloggers along for an evening of local wines and cheeses and to give us a chance to have a nosy around the Bristol Guesthouse. It’s always nice to meet other bloggers and we all fell in love with this hidden gem of a guesthouse. It definitely helped that we were all crazy about the free cheese on offer too!

The kitchen and dining area was furnished to a traditional country style and I liked the fact that the kitchen was all open so you’re able to see your food being prepared as you wait. It gives the whole place a very homely feel.


The dining area opens out to a lovely garden area with plenty of plants and places to sit. In keeping with Bristol style, Carla had some street art commissioned which gives the outside a very quirky feel.


The street art isn’t the only surprising aspect of this guesthouse though. Situated on the rooftop are these incredible retro rocket caravans! These must be the coolest place to sleep in Bristol! We had a sneak peak inside one and they’re fitted with colourful LED lights which make them even cooler in my opinion. They’re so big that they had to be lifted up from the street to the rooftop on a crane. Can you imagine how crazy that must have looked?!


The new Brooks Country House is going to have quite a different vibe but it still looks like somewhere amazing to stay. It’s a stunning Georgian Manor House and from the pictures, it looks like its been beautifully decorated. I asked Carla and the wallpaper is all from Cole and Son so no expense has been spared!


On the evening, Katharine from bristoletc won a free stay at the Country House so I’m looking forward to reading her blog post after her visit.

Thank you so much to everyone involved in making this evening happen. I had a lovely time and hope to stay in one of the Brooks Hotels soon!

Europe, Travel, UK

Glastonbury Festival 2016

July 5, 2016

Anyone else still suffering from the Glastonbury blues? The long journey to get there, the horrendous mud and the toilets are now a distant memory and all we can remember is the great music, the fantastic array of food and the incredible atmosphere that surrounds Glastonbury festival.

glastonbury 2016 2glastonbury 2016 3

This year was my third Glastonbury and it honestly just gets better. Whether you’re there for the headliners or the smaller acts, there’s something for everyone. You could go to Glastonbury and not see a single performance and still have a good time. Each area is filled with the most random activities and stalls. Boredom is simply not possible at this amazing festival in Somerset.

These were my highlights for 2016:

glastonbury 2016 1

The food! I could dedicate a whole blog post to the food at Glasto. Every cuisine imaginable is available and it’s all amazing. I actually get sad that there isn’t enough time to try more.

glastonbury food

The tributes to Bowie, Prince and Lemmy. These were everywhere – from stage installations to toilet graffiti. A touching nod of respect to these great artists.

david bowie eavis tribute

Bowie tribute pyramid stagelemmy tribute other stage glastonbury 2016

Coldplay’s tribute to Viola Beach. A moving tribute to a band who never reached their full potential. This was the closest to tears I got all week.

coldplay glastonbury 2016

Adele’s accent. The contrast between her singing and speaking voice is crazy. I loved Adele’s anecdotes and jokes between songs. She was phenomenal.

glastonbury 2016 4

I always go through a stage after Glastonbury when I say that I won’t be going again. Then I forget how disgusting I felt and watch some of the performances again on Youtube and before long I can’t imagine spending the last weekend in June anywhere else… See you next year Glastonbury!

Glastonbury 2016