A Little Guide to Bristol

Bristol is a fabulous place to spend a weekend break in the city- full to the brim with culture and diversity and there always seems to be a new exhibition or even taking place, meaning there is always something different to explore.  I have been here countless times now and I am always keen to find a reason to go back!

Here are a few of my favourite things to do when I am there:

Visit Stokes Croft and search for grafitti

One of Banksy's pieces in Stokes Croft
One of Banksy’s pieces in Stokes Croft

 

I say ‘search’ but you really don’t have to look far- every building in some parts of town are covered in it, especially in Stokes Croft, where you can find some of Banksy’s work.

There is a great pub as you enter this area, called ‘The Full Moon’, which is also a hostel as well.  I was first attracted the outside which had been covered with a painting of a solar system, but as it turns out, it is a great place to sit and people watch as it has a massive beer garden overlooking the main road.  Apparently they hold a market and gigs here as well.

There are some very interesting shops and galleries in this area, my favourite being a massive antiques shop called Stokes Croft Vintage Market where you can spend hours looking at a huge collection of all sorts of bric-a-brac from years gone by.

When crossing from the city centre to Stokes Croft, you have to go in a subway under the road.  This is pretty cool on a summer’s day as it is filled with people skateboarding and rollerblading and there is even a ‘Burrito Bus’- an old double decker converted into a Mexican restaurant!

The Burrito Bus on the subway linking the city centre to Stokes Croft
The Burrito Bus on the subway linking the city centre to Stokes Croft

 

Shopping

One of the many streets of shops and restaurants in the city
One of the many streets of shops and restaurants in the city

 

There are so many different types of shops in Bristol.  I find it great for vintage shopping as there are many quirky little shops on Queens Road, but there is also a main shopping centre with most of your big chain stores and a good few smaller boutiques as well.  On the outskirts of the city, there is a huge shopping centre called Cribs Causeway, which you can definitely spend a day getting lost in!

There are several different markets throughout the city, but the best in my opinion is St Nicholas’ Market which is in the old quarter.  There is a building which houses the majority of the stalls, but several selling clothes, jewellery and hand-made crafts also spill out onto the street outside.

 

‘Bristol Harbour’

Bristol Harbour
Bristol Harbour

 

Bristol Harbour is a great place to go for a wander in the day and a drink in the evening.  During the day there is a small market which sells an array of items such as second hand books and hand made crafts and this is also where you will find a tourist information centre and several bars and restaurants.  In these docks you will also find a ‘floating restaurant’ which is an old boat turned into a cafe.  I have never eaten here but I would like to maybe next time. There are lots of bars and restaurants in this area, including a massive Wetherspoons which is always a reliable go-to for breakfast or a quick and easy meal.

The harbour is home to the M Shed Museum which has a lot of exhibits on how the city was formed and also about how people of many different cultures have come to call Bristol their home.  The museum houses temporary exhibitions too and there is also an old fashioned steam train which can give you a ride across the harbour.  Just a stone’s throw across the water is the science centre which is a fab day out for kids, but not so great for adults (I found that out the hard way by buying a ticket before finding out it was best suited for the under tens, never mind!)

M Shed Museum
M Shed Museum

 

There are several different markets throughout the city, but the best in my opinion is St Nicholas’ Market which is in the old quarter.  There is a building which houses the majority of the stalls, but several selling clothes, jewellery and hand-made crafts also spill out onto the street outside.

 

Eating and Drinking

Like with most major cities, there are endless places to choose from to eat and drink.  As I mentioned above, there are a lot of restaurants in the harbour area, including an ‘all you can eat’ buffet and many popular chains.  The last time I was in Bristol, I went to La Pata Negra which is a Spanish restaurant in the old quarter of the city.  Whilst it wasn’t the cheapest restaurant, I would certainly recommend it for its authentic Spanish dishes and cosy atmosphere.  You can’t make a reservation unless you are a large party, so it’s worth getting there fairly early to ensure you can get a table.  There are several bars in this area, so it is ideal if you are looking for somewhere to go for a drink after food.

Queens Road is another good place to find some smaller cafes and restaurants and it is also where you will find Boston Tea Party which is great for breakfast.

Queens Road
Queens Road

 

Where to stay

I love a long weekend in Bristol and have stayed in many different places.  The most recent time I stayed in the Mercure Grand Hotel, which is right in the city centre and also has a swimming pool and spa which was great for when the weather took a turn for the worst!  There are also a lot of places to stay on Airbnb and if all else fails, there is a Travelodge in the city centre as well!

 

There is so much to do in Bristol and I haven’t even scratched the surface with the things I have mentioned.  What are you your favourite things to do in Bristol, where and what would you recommend?  Leave a comment below!

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Reasons to Travel Whilst you are Young…

When I finished university, I didn’t know whether to go traveling or to start applying for full-time work.  It didn’t take me long to decide that I would prefer to go traveling around Australia because I thought that I’d spend most of my life working and I know that once I had a job, it would probably be quite difficult to take a long time off to do so.  I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to have this option, so I am very lucky in that aspect, but here are some of the reasons why I think you should travel if you can:

1. You don’t have any responsibilities. When you are younger, you don’t have the responsibilities that come with your later years.  You may not have family and children or a house to keep.  You can afford to be selfish.

2.  It makes you realise that there is a whole world out there.  We all know that there are different cultures and types of people in the world, but you only really realise this when you leave your familiar surroundings and find yourself in a strange country, away from what you consider to be your comfort zone.

Australia
Australia

3. It makes you appreciate what you have back home. Living in hostels for months on end makes you appreciate home comforts when you do come home and you really appreciate your own comfy bed and your own privacy!

4. You also realise how much you appreciate family and friends. You take it for granted being able to see people every day, but when you are the other side of the world, it just isn’t possible.

5. You get to try things you wouldn’t normally dream of. I skydived, went scuba diving and did a whole load of things I never normally have been able to experience.

G'day kangaroo!
G’day kangaroo!

6. You meet new friends from around the world. Whilst staying in hostels, you get to meet people from different countries.  Everyone is in the same boat and looking to make friends, so you get to talk to different people all of the time.

7. You make memories that you will keep forever. You will look back in years to come and still remember the amazing experiences that you have.

8. And most importantly.. Because it is so FUN! Travelling is so exciting and fun, it takes a lot to top the experience!

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

 

Did you decide to travel before getting a full-time job? Leave a comment below!

Basic Guide to: Geocaching

Geocaching is something that I was introduced to about a year ago and even though it has been around for years, a lot of people still don’t know about it.  I regularly go geocaching with my boyfriend, James and now that the weather is getting a bit better, we plan to go a lot more 🙂

 

What is Geocaching?   

Geocaching is almost like a huge treasure hunt that anyone around the world can join in with.  Users hide ‘caches’ and then log the coordinates of said cache on an app, ready for other users to find.

Caches can be in the form of anything from a large container, to a tiny little magnet and are hidden in places where you would least expect to find them.  In fact, you have probably walked past a geocache, many times before without realising it is even there!  Some of the larger caches contain little gifts and prizes which you can take, providing you replace it with something of an equivalent value.

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A typical geocache

All that you need to do to find a geocache is download the app on your phone and do a search of the area that you’re in.  Once you find one you want to look for, click on it and you will be given a clue and how many meters away you are.  When you have found it, you need to sign the log within the cache and also mark it off on the app.  This lets you keep track of how many you have found and also any you couldn’t find, should you want to try looking for it again in the future.

It sounds easy but some of the hiding places are extremely clever and there have been a few times that we have given up out of frustration!

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Hidden in the most unlikely of places!

 

Things you should know before you start

There are two different versions of the app:  a free version and a paid for version (If I remember rightly, this cost around £7).

The paid version seems to have less geocaches listed on it (which seems strange as you are paying for it), but it does give you the option of making ‘offline lists’ which are great if you know you will be going somewhere with limited 3G or internet.

The Free version allows you to look at a larger map area and seems to be updated a lot more frequently than the paid version.

We use a mixture of both apps, but if it’s your first time geocaching, you could create an account online and then use the free app to see if you like it first before paying.

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The green dots show where you can find a geocache (on the free version of the app)

What you will need to go geocaching

There isn’t much that you do need, but the following are advised:

A phone- So that you can use the app to locate the caches

A pen– for signing the caches when you find them!

Suitable footwear– Geocaches are often hidden in woodland and grass which is often muddy.  (I learnt this the hard way after accidentally standing in ankle-deep mud whilst wearing my suede pumps!)

Once you have these, you’re ready to start geocaching!

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A typical geocache

The great thing about geocaching is that you can make a day of it, or you can spend a spare ten minutes searching for a nearby cache.  It is suitable for all ages and it is great for exploring areas that you wouldn’t necessarily go to.  I especially love that a lot of caches contain information and local history about the nearby area, so you often learn something at the same time!

There is a huge geocaching community out there and I have even seen meet-up events advertised, although I haven’t been to one of these yet, but hope to go in the future.  There are over 2 million geocaches across the world, so you are more or less guaranteed to find one in almost every country in the world.

Give it a go if you haven’t already, but I will warn you, it is very addictive and you will be forever checking your phone to see if there are any caches nearby! 

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Signing the cache’s log

 

 

Eight reasons to travel whilst you are young…

When I finished university last year, I didn’t know whether to go traveling or to start applying for full-time work.  It didn’t take me long to decide that I would prefer to go traveling around Australia because I thought that I’d spend most of my life working and I know that once I had a job, it would probably be quite difficult to take a long time off to do so.  I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to have this option, so I know that I am very lucky in that aspect, but here are some of the reasons why I think you should travel if you can:

1. You don’t have any responsibilities. When you are younger, you don’t have the responsibilities that come with your later years.  You may not have family and children or a house to keep.  You can afford to be selfish.

2.  It makes you realise that there is a whole world out there.  We all know that there are different cultures and types of people in the world, but you only really realise this when you leave your familiar surroundings and find yourself in a strange country, away from all that is familiar.

Sunny Australia!
Sunny Australia!

3. It makes you appreciate what you have back home. Living in hostels for months on end makes you appreciate home comforts when you do come home and you really appreciate your own comfy bed and your own privacy!

4. You also realise how much you appreciate family and friends. You take it for granted being able to see people every day, but when you are the other side of the world, it just isn’t possible.

5. You get to try things you wouldn’t normally dream of. I skydived, went scuba diving and did a whole load of things I never normally have been able to experience.

G'day kangaroo!
G’day kangaroo!

6. You meet new friends from around the world. Whilst staying in hostels, you get to meet people from different countries.  Everyone is in the same boat and looking to make friends, so you get to talk to different people all of the time.

7. You make memories that you will keep forever. You will look back in years to come and still remember the amazing experiences that you have.

8. And most importantly.. Because it is so FUN! Travelling is so exciting and fun, it takes a lot to top the experience!

A not-so-sunny Sydney
A not-so-sunny Sydney

Do you agree?  What other benefits are there to travelling?  Comment below!

Aussie-Inspired Beauty Products

Aussie Products
Aussie inspired hair products

Last year whilst travelling in Australia for three months, I noticed that many beauty and hair products feature natural ingredients and scents native to the country. Being however that I was on a budget and that toiletries were so expensive for some reason, I didn’t get a chance to give them a go and stuck to the low-cost supermarket cheapies.

This doesn’t really matter now though, as to my delight, I discovered a few Australian- inspired bargains whilst browsing in my local Savers store last week!

Oz Botanics Shampoo and Conditioner
Oz Botanics Shampoo and Conditioner

Made in Oz Shampoo and Conditioner

Two of these bargains were ‘Made in Oz’ shampoo and conditioner which appear to be imitations of the well-known ‘Aussie’ brand. They contain extracts of Tasmanian blue gum and have a fruity, but not overpowering scent.  I wasn’t expecting great things as each bottle only cost £1 each, but to be honest, I think they could get away with being a bit more expensive.  After just one use, my hair felt really clean and it looked really glossy too.  I have used this a few times since buying it and it appears that it is not so harsh that it can’t be used every day.

Gumtree henna hair conditioner

Gumtree Henna Hair Conditioner

This hair treatment conditioner is BRILLIANT!  Again, it is only £1 and it comes in a 500ml tub so it will last for ages.

Although I don’t colour or bleach my hair, I find that the ends can sometimes get a bit dry from straightening or using the hair dryer.  This product is perfect for putting back any lost moisture and it makes your hair feel very clean and shiny.

The instructions recommend washing your hair and then towel-drying it before applying the conditioning mask.  I didn’t actually bother drying my hair and just used it whilst I was in the shower and I still think it worked really well.  It is recommended to leave it on for a few minutes though, so this isn’t one to use when you are late for work in the morning!

If you used this conditioner everyday

it may make your hair a bit greasy, but two or three times a month would be ideal if your hair is feeling a bit dull and lifeless.

Paw Paw Ointment
Paw Paw Ointment

Paw Paw Ointment 

Why this product is only now arriving in the UK, I’ll never know!  Technically this isn’t ‘Aussie inspired’, it is the real deal, born and bred down under.

Paw Paw ointment is made from fermented papaya and can be used for just about anything.  I use it primarily as a lip balm, but it can be used for things like blisters, burns, cuts, chafing, you name it.  It is a real Aussie favourite and so many people told me about it when I was over there.

I bought this particular tube when I was in Australia (I bought about four of them because I love it so much) but I have been told that you can buy a different brand of it in Urban Outfitters and it can be ordered in the UK on sites like Amazon. Whilst it is a relatively cheap product (about £7 a tube) It is still a lot more  expensive online than in Australia. I’m hoping that the more popular it becomes, the cheaper it will be.

Although several different brands make paw paw ointment, I have tried most of them and they all seem to be pretty similar and all do the same thing.  It is fab for chapped lips and I found that it is also good for putting on over lipstick to help make the colour last longer.

If you have never tried it, I’d recommend ordering some, or better still, if you know someone going on holiday to Australia, get them to bring you some back!

Are there any Aussie products that you have tried recently?  Leave a comment!

How a Magazine Can Change a Life

Last week's Big Issue
Last week’s Big Issue

The other day whilst I was doing some temp work for a local homeless charity, I read a copy of The Big Issue for the first time.

Of course like most people who frequent any city centre in the UK, I have been asked countless times if I wanted to buy a copy and I have always ashamedly avoided eye contact, uttered ‘no thank you’ and carried on going about my day.  I’ve always thought that the magazine wouldn’t interest me and to be truthful, my ignorance made me think that it would perhaps be a waste of money.

But that is until I discovered what a difference that magazine can make to somebody who is facing life on the streets.

The company uses the slogan ‘working not begging’ and it is true.  It is explained inside the magazine that vendors purchase the weekly copies at the cost of £1.25 from The Big Issue and they then sell it on to members of the public for £2.50. This gives many people the opportunity of employment and the chance to turn their lives around.

The manifesto of the magazine
The manifesto of the magazine

Many of the people who sell The Big Issue have lost everything- their jobs, their families and their homes, often through no fault of their own.   By providing someone in this situation with a job, rather than a hand-out, you are giving them the responsibility and pride that comes with earning your own money.

Not only are you helping somebody by buying a copy, but in my opinion it is actually a pretty good magazine.  It features articles and interviews from household names and celebrity faces, along with reviews of the latest films and entertainment.  The articles are varied and thought-provoking, a welcome change from some of the fashion and celebrity gossip magazines that I usually find myself reading.

An example of the articles in the magazine
An example of the articles in the magazine

Now that I know the difference that this magazine can make to an individual, I have vowed to not turn the other cheek and to buy a copy each time that I am in town.   Knowing that for the price of a coffee, you can make a whole lot of difference for somebody who is facing a life on the streets makes it worth every penny.

Did you buy The Big Issue?  Leave a comment below!

A Peek at Shabby Chic

Anyone who knows me well may tell you that I am a nosy person… and I love seeing where people live… and I love seeing how people decorate their houses…  So imagine how excited I was when I discovered that there are whole Instagram pages dedicated to exactly this!

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An example of the type of home decor pages you can find on Instagram

I know that you have always been able to look in interior magazines to see this sort of thing, but they tend to normally feature grand and expensively styled homes which most of us can only dream of.  What Instagram has done is given ordinary people the opportunity to show off what they have done to their more modest homes, which in most cases are more realistic and relatable to the average person.

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Pages like shabby_chichomes on instagram are a homage to all things shabby chic

For a while now I have been a big fan of all things shabby chic and this latest Instagram discovery has only added fuel to the fire.  I love being able to see how people have put a stamp on their homes by bringing different colours, flowery prints and vintage-looking knick-knacks  together to create the much coveted,distressed look.

From the amount of Instagram pages dedicated to the style, it would seem that it is more popular than ever, but why is this?

Perhaps it is because it can be achieved on any budget.

Quirky trinkets and vintage fabrics can be picked up cheaply in car boot sales and charity shops and furniture can be picked up for next to nothing on online selling pages and in local recycling schemes.  With a bit of TLC and a lick of chalk-paint, you can achieve a piece of furniture which wouldn’t look out of place in a Laura Ashley catalogue.  It is all about mixing the old with the new.

Mixing old with new
A mix of old and new

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Old photographs and postcards in different frames add to the look

But for those with a higher budget or those  who perhaps prefer to buy new, it is now easy to buy vintage-esque items on the high-street. Many of the materials are remakes and copies of original antique designs and several shops have cottoned on to the craze for new-looking-like-old and have brought out home ranges of vintage feel products. Wilkinsons did a great line of 1950s inspired kitchenware last year which included retro-style microwaves and old-fashioned weighing scales in pretty pastel colours. If you look around many other high street shops too, you will see that they are doing the same.

Retro-inspired weighing scales, Wilko, £4
1950s inspired microwave- Wilko, £70
Ashley Thomas at Debenhams

Another reason for shabby-chic’s popularity could be down to the fact that it works well in a room of any size. It could be difficult to pull off the minimalistic look in a small room, however as shabby-chic is reminiscent of small, cosy cottages anyway, it doesn’t matter if space isn’t on your side.  Anything goes in this style.

How to achieve the look:

Pretty Patterns

Think clashing floral patterns mixed in with spots, stripes and different textures

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Layers of different patterns and textures

Pastel colours

whites with creams, pinks, peppermint, duck egg blue, yellows.  Some people prefer to add splashes of bolder colours too

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Coloured bunting add colour to a room

Distressed furniture

can be modified using chalk paint for a dull, rustic effect, or a glossy paint for a shine effect.

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A lick of paint can give furniture a new lease of life

What is your favourite style of decor?  Why do you think shabby-chic is so popular?  Leave a comment below!

xxx