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Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – The Ivy Clifton Brasserie, Bristol

August 17, 2017

Situated on the corner of Caledonia Place in Clifton, The Ivy is a beautiful restaurant that’s been open for around a year round. Stu and I finally got round to going a couple of months ago and now I’ve finally got round to writing my review. We’d both heard good things about The Ivy but I still went in with an open mind because there’s nothing worse than somewhere not meeting your expectations and letting it ruin your night.

Spoiler alert: There was *nothing* to be disappointed about.

We were booked in for a Saturday night so expected it to be busy. It was, but in a good way. We were sat in the main seating area which will leave you wishing you lived somewhere with high ceilings and huge chandeliers. Being busy, there was a constant buzz about the place which always creates a good atmosphere in a restaurant. I hate places where you feel everyone is listening to your conversation and you have to whisper. It wasn’t so loud that we had to shout across the table at each other either so win-win.


Now, The Ivy is more expensive than your standard chain restaurant but this was a treat night for us so we decided to not worry about the price and just pick what we wanted. For me, this obviously meant starting with a cocktail! I had the Lavender Lady which was a pretty, gin based drink. 

Now, the food. Our server was really attentive and explained all the specials to us and made some recommendations which is always a good sign. I like it when someone clearly knows the menu rather than just reading off the whiteboard behind them.


I started with the Tuna Carpaccio and Stu had the Crispy Duck Salad. Both came out presented beautifully and the flavours lived up to expectation. My tuna was so fresh and the miso mayonnaise it came with was phenomenal. I do love miso though. Stu’s dish was just as good (obviously I tried some) and the crispy duck contrasted wonderfully with the watermelon.


I was really torn with what to choose for a main. There was lots of choice on the menu and it took me a while to decide. Quite often, one dish will jump out at me but so many options sounded great. I eventually went for the Aromatic Duck Curry because I was intrigued as to how duck would work in a curry. The menu described it as ‘fragrant’ and that sums it up perfectly. It smelt wonderful and all the flavours really complemented each other. Any curry that uses lemongrass will always be a winner with me. The curry was served separately to the rice and although the rice looked good wrapped up in a banana leaf, it made eating it slightly difficult. I didn’t know whether to dip my forkful of rice in to the curry or to add all the rice to bowl of curry in one go… Neither seemed ideal!


Stu had the Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder which came with creamed potato and vegetables. The lamb looked immense with a mustard and herb crust and Stu definitely enjoyed it. I didn’t try any unfortunately but we can trust his opinion!

We were both feeling pretty full by this point but there is always room for pudding. I could only manage something small and went for the Mini Chocolate Truffles. These came filled with salted caramel and were a perfect sweet treat to end the meal with. Stu had the Lemon Meringue Alaska. This was a baked meringue with lemon ice cream and was served on a lemon curd sauce. All sorts of deliciousness!



With a tip, our meal came to just over £100 which is more than what we’d usually spend but for a three course meal and drinks it was worth it. Sometimes it’s nice to really make an occasion of eating out and The Ivy in Clifton is perfect for those times. It’s so easy to grab a Nandos that it can be easily forgotten that eating out should be an event. So get dressed up and head to The Ivy, no excuses needed.

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!

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – Backwell House, Bristol

June 29, 2017

Just a few miles from the busy city centre of Bristol sits the beautiful Backwell House and I was lucky enough to visit and try out their new menu on a stunning weekday evening a couple of weeks ago.

It’s hard to put in to words just how picturesque Backwell House and surrounding grounds are but if you take a look at the pictures below, you’ll get a pretty good idea.



We were greeted with drinks by the entrance before being given a tour of the House and gardens by Guy, the Managing Director of the Hotel and Restaurant. I would usually summarise the tour in the same post as the restaurant review but that wouldn’t do this place justice so I’m going to write another post at a later date to showcase all the quirky details and the wonderful gardens.


After the tour, we were seated in this huge dining room reserved just for the Bristol bloggers group and we each had a goody bag filled with gifts from Backwell House and local suppliers which was a lovely touch. Before long our Starters were being brought out and I’m the worst for getting food envy so even though my dish looked great, I also wanted to try everyone else’s as well! I started with the Pressed Backwell Pork with New Season Peas, Pancetta and a Tarragon Emulsion (this sounds better if you read it in your best Masterchef voice). The crackling was a bit awkward to eat politely so not a great option for a first date. I ended up picking mine up and just going for the chomp! The rest of the dish was really tasty and set the tone for the rest of the meal.


Next up was the Cornish Cod with a Brixham Crab Bonbon, Crab Bisque, Kohlrabi and Pak Choi. I’m not usually one to pick fish but I thought I’d give it a go and definitely wasn’t disappointed. The whole dish tasted really fresh and no flavours were too overpowering. I was sat next to Rebecca who had the sirloin steak which looked immense so I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures.



Now for dessert I had to choose the strawberry cannelloni just because I was so intrigued. I had no idea what to expect but it was a nice refreshing end to the meal. The cannelloni was served with cute little meringues and some Cheddar Valley strawberries.


The atmosphere of the evening was great, everyone was chatting between courses and hearing stories of Backwell House from the staff. The chef, Ross Hunter, came out to see us afterwards for a little Q&A session and he was so modest! I told him to get on Masterchef: The Professionals! It was good to hear that all the food was sourced locally, including some from the very gardens of the house.

Our hosts for the evening, Guy and Felicity, were ridiculously accommodating and couldn’t do enough to make sure everyone was having a good time. I’ve been to a few blogger evenings now and this was one of the best. You can tell how much Guy loves Backwell House or ‘his baby’ as he calls it and I’m sure every visitor will leave just as happy as I did. Just go!


I received a complimentary meal at Backwell House but all views are my own. 

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – The Square Kitchen, Bristol.

May 20, 2017

Last month I was invited to try out the new Spring menu at The Square Kitchen in Clifton along with a few other local bloggers. I love eating out so I was excited to try somewhere new. Bristol is full of so many hidden gems when it comes to restaurants and for someone who has lived in Bristol their entire life, I feel bad that there are so many places I’ve never visited!


The Square Kitchen is situated in The Berkeley Square Hotel off Queens Square.  It’s a private members club aimed at the creative industry but luckily members of the public can also visit.


It was cocktails on arrival for the bloggers and I was glad to see a good selection of mocktails as I was driving. Cocktails and bloggers meant an awful lot of photos had to be taken before we could drink. Did you even have a cocktail if you didn’t take a picture of it?


Before we sat down to eat, Heather let us have a nosy around her room as she was staying in the hotel for the night. The room was absolutely perfect for a short stay and I’m pretty sure I could actually live there haha! There was a definite Alice in Wonderland theme going on in her room as you can see from the pictures below. They know how to make food and drink look appealing! Also – how cute is the kitchen area?!


After a quick visit to Heather’s room, it was time to sit down to eat. The quirky interior theme continued to the restaurant with beautiful art work and low hanging lights which look good but did nothing for the pictures I took of my food!


We started with ham hock and piccalilli appetisers before our Starters came out. These were completely unexpected so felt like a real treat. I felt like I was a judge on Masterchef as the presentation was so pretty – a definite theme to the whole meal!


I decided to be brave with my choice of Starter and went for the seared scallops with serrano ham chips, a clam salad and caviar. This looked really delicate and came with some lemon spherification which is something I only know about from watching posh chefs on TV! I enjoyed the starter, especially the scallops because they’re such a rare treat.


For my main I chose the herb and parmesan gnocchi which was served with butternut fondant and a parmesan tuille. The gnocchi was beautifully rich and the butternut fondant was so smooth it was almost creamy. I wished there was more of this dish it was so tasty.


I finished with the chocolate bomb which was an event in itself. A filled chocolate sphere is brought to your table and then the waiter pours hot salted caramel sauce over the chocolate causing it to collapse and exposing the filling inside. Mine was filled with peanut butter parfait and a banana mousse. What’s not to love?


The whole menu was reasonably priced for the quality of the food, it’s definitely somewhere you should consider for a nice meal out without a stuffy atmosphere.


Food, Lifestyle

Beauty & The Beast Afternoon Tea at Old Down Estate

April 29, 2017

Before I start this post, I have a teeny tiny confession to make.

I still haven’t watched the new Beauty & The Beast in the cinema.

I know, I know, I’m such a bad Disney fan. I don’t even have a good excuse, as always, life has been busy and time has just flown by. I promise I’ll see it soon though. Or maybe just wait for the DVD…

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I got to experience a Beauty & The Beast themed afternoon tea with a couple of friends at the beautiful Old Down Estate. Disney and afternoon tea? What could be better!


It was a beautiful afternoon when we visited so the grounds looked wonderful. You can get married at Old Down Estate and if you were lucky with the weather, you’d get some beautiful photos. Inside was just as pretty and we were quickly shown in to a holding area before our table was ready.


The Beauty & The Beast soundtrack was played quietly in the background to get us in the Disney mood (as if we weren’t already!) and before long we were shown to our table.


Each table had a replica enchanted rose and little figurines of characters from the film. The whole room was overly excited and everyone was taking lots of pictures of their tables. Mrs Potts as the milk jug was a firm favourite of mine. I actually ended up with a really milky tea as I was recording myself pouring the milk and trying to get that elusive perfect Boomerang for Instagram!


There were even more pictures as our afternoon tea came out to us. Alongside the usual sandwiches and scones, the macaroons were sitting inside a Chip mug and we had a chocolate cake shaped to look like Cogsworth. Everything looked really pretty and it’s always a shame to eat it.


I’m actually a bit weird and don’t like many desserts so I was happy with the sandwiches and scones but didn’t like many of the other treats – too much coconut and mousse for my liking. If I’m being honest, I’ve had better afternoon teas but the the Beauty & The Beast theme made this a special occasion.


As we were finishing off our food, a lady dressed as Belle came in to the room. Unfortunately there were only a couple of children in our sitting so Belle had to make awkward small talk with a lot of bemused adults. We still had a picture with her though! Belle then started to sing along with the sound track which again would have gone down better if there were more children to join in.

I liked Old Down Estate and I’d definitely like to see a wedding there, just got to bully one of my friends in to choosing it for their venue!

Food, Lifestyle

Restaurant Review – Jamie’s Italian, Bristol

April 3, 2017

Last Friday, the sun was shining and I managed to finish work at 3pm. Stu had had the whole day off so I quickly got changed and then we headed in to Bristol for our meal at Jamie’s Italian on Park Street. I’ve been to this Jamie’s Italian before and one in Bath but not for a few years so I was really looking forward to visiting again.

Jamie's Italian Bristol Super Lunch Menu
We were sat in one of the American Diner style booths next to the window and with the sun coming in, I genuinely felt like I was on holiday. And I think that’s probably one of the best feelings there is. In keeping with the holiday spirit, I ordered a mojito and Stu got a beer.

Jamie's Italian Bristol cocktails
As it was still early, we could order from the Super Lunch menu which is only £13.95 for three courses! We both love food as much as we love a bargain so both went for choices on this menu.  Although it’s a set menu there’s still a decent amount of options. Stu chose the truffle tagliatelle to start and I got the tomato bruschetta knowing full well that I would be trying Stu’s at the first chance possible.

Jamie's Italian Bristol Tomato Bruschetta

Jamie's Italian Bristol Starters
Both starters were delicious. Mine was really fresh and perfect for Spring. Stu’s was a lot richer but really comforting. You can’t beat a simple pasta dish and this was amazing.

For the main event, I went for Gennaro’s Chicken Club (Gennaro is one of the Greedy Italians – great duo!) with spicy fries and Stu had the Italian Steak and Fries. Both portions were a good size and we commented that it’s really good value for a lunch menu. The spicy ‘nduja mayo on my main was a real highlight for me, especially with my fries!

Jamie's Italian Bristol Italian Steak and Fries
Jamie's Italian Bristol Chicken Club
We’re both pretty full by this point but there is always room for dessert in my eyes. With no cheesecake in sight, I was forced to choose the Epic Brownie. And let’s be honest, it was an easy decision because it was truly epic. Just look at it. LOOK AT IT.

Jamie's Italian Bristol Epic Brownie
Whoever came up with the idea of putting popcorn with a brownie needs to be knighted. They are a genius. This was the perfect way to round off the meal and I’m definitely going to try and recreate the epic brownie at home.

A special mention has to go to the staff at Jamie’s Italian in Bristol. They’re all really helpful and can give you lots of information about the dishes. Thank you for making us feel special!

Have you visited a Jamie’s Italian? What did you think?

I was invited by Jamie’s Italian to review the restaurant but all views and brownie loving are entirely by own. 

Food, Lifestyle

Brunching in Bristol with Cox and Baloney

March 16, 2017

Bristol is into Brunch. We’ve got bottomless brunch, boozy brunch and budget brunch options galore.

Along with a few other Bristol Bloggers, I was recently invited to Cox and Baloney in Stokes Croft to sample their new brunch menu. Obviously I jumped at the chance and had the best Sunday morning ever drinking copious amounts of tea and eating some wonderful food.

Shamefully, I hadn’t heard of Cox and Baloney before but this one visit has cemented itself in my top brunch locations in Bristol. The interior is BEAUTIFUL. The owners must have had so much fun shopping for all the vintage teapots and accessories. They even had a cuckoo clock which actually worked! I fell in love with the gold wall and am pretty tempted to rethink some of my ideas for my house now.

Before I talk about the delicious food that we were served, a special mention has to go to the tea. Cox and Baloney make their own tea bags so they have an amazing selection of brews including a prosecco tea (definitely designed with me in mind!). Each time a tea pot came out we were told how long we should allow it to brew for and given a little sand timer to keep track. It was little touches like this that made the whole experience at Cox and Baloney so special.

Now, THE FOOD.

Whether you’re into your porridge or your pancakes, Cox and Baloney have you covered. Every dish was presented beautifully and tasted just as good as they looked. They even challenged my view on tofu by serving us scrambled tofu on toast. This sounded so weird to me and looked like a slightly more green scrambled eggs when it came out. I was a bit hesitant but pleasantly surprised when I tasted it. It was incredible! Who knew?! The chef wouldn’t tell us how to make it (who can blame her?) so I’ll have to visit again to get my scrambled tofu fix. Now, that’s a sentence I never thought I would write…

My favourite dish was probably the pancakes which come served with seasonal toppings. I love a fluffy pancake and these came close to being as good as Stu’s homemade ones. Obviously the brunch menu also includes crushed avocado and poached egg on toast because what’s the point in having  brunch if you can’t take a video of the perfect runny egg?

I left Cox and Baloney feeling very full of tea and food but had the best morning with some fellow bloggers. If you’re ever in the mood for brunch (and when would you not be?) and in the Bristol area, I definitely recommend checking out Cox and Baloney. I’m sure I’ll be a regular now!

Health & Fitness, Lifestyle

Running, again.

August 26, 2016

Regular readers of this blog (Hi Grandma and Grandad!) will remember that I ran the London Marathon earlier this year. I can no longer remember any of the pain and only look back at London with fond memories. I can’t imagine ever doing a race like that again. I am still running though and next month I’m taking part in the Bristol Half Marathon for the 4th time.

This will be my 5th half and so far each one has been faster than the last. I’m not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. So much pressure! When I was training for London, I found that I was beating my half marathon PB by a couple of minutes in my training runs. These runs were over 13 miles so I wasn’t pushing myself to beat the time, it just happened. This has made me determined to run faster again come Sunday 25th September. My ultimate aim is to go under 2 hours but that involves taking 6 minutes off my PB which is a big ask.

I’ve found my mindset has changed during my training this time around. Usually I really build up the big 10 or 11 mile training runs in my head because they’ll be the longest I run before race day. But a few months ago I running over 20 miles as a training run so these runs seem so much shorter in comparison. I even find myself saying that I *only* ran 10 miles! There is nothing only about running 10 miles! This change in mindset has made me more determined than ever to run faster. I feel really strong at the moment so touch wood that I don’t get injured and I’m happy with my time next month!

Stu is also running the race and this will be his first half marathon! He’s really tall which means his stride is a lot longer than mine so will probably beat me which is frustrating!

Wish us both luck and I’ll let you know how we get on!

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

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

August 11, 2015

It’s official. Bristol loves balloons. The whole city went balloon mad last week. Facebook and Instagram were full of arty shots of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and some balloons in the sky.

To be fair, when the weathers good, the Balloon Fiesta is a good day out. We went to Ashton Court on Saturday afternoon with some friends so we managed to watch the balloons go up, have a few drinks in the sun and then watch the night glow and fireworks afterwards. There’s also lots of fairground rides and stalls to keep you entertained if you spend the whole day there.

You don’t have to go in to Ashton Court, lots of people sit in the Clifton area and just watch the balloons take flight which can be a much nicer experience than battling the crowds to get a good spot to watch the night glow.


If you haven’t been before the night glow is basically the balloons being lit up in time to music – it looks much better than it sounds, trust me! The balloons are all different shapes and sizes, from Minions to Penguins and everything in between. What was your favourite this year?

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is yet another reason why this city is so great! Did you enjoy the balloon fiesta this year?

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