Finding, dining and eating chicken.

At the weekend my boyfriend’s family came to Bristol,UK. Which is fun because, as you know I love being a tourist in my own city but also because you get to see responses to the city from people who don’t know it, you get to take adventures and visit places forgotten or past by. I wonder if being a tour guide would get boring, or would your energy be supplied by the gleaming faces of tourists?

Having walked the city till our feet were sore and muscles in my legs, which I didn’t know existed, burnt and stung with exhaustion we decided it was time to reward ourselves to a dinner out.  We decided to take them to a little Jamaican in Stokes Croft, named Rice and Things. Me and my boyfriend had passed this restaurant several times, like the other lovely smelling cafes and bistros staggered throughout stokes croft, we finally went we had the occasion to go, and couldn’t ignore it any longer. Much to the appreciation of our guests, they were thrilled to not go to a chain, as it would’ve been an easy option to choose, tired and flagging from a long day out.

The menu at Rice and Things was bursting with combination of foods I’ve never tasted, dishes were named with suggestions of the chefs personality and heritage. The atmosphere was buzzing; people coming and going, grabbing their take-away meals or waiting for the next available table to open up.

Then it was our turn to taste.

When the food arrived we let out a gasp. Thank goodness we didn’t have any starters, the plates were piled high with fried chicken for me, and jerk chicken for the hot spice tolerant. We had rice and beans for a side, fragrant with cinnamon, herbs and spices my amateur pallet couldn’t yet pick out. We also decided to try the ‘boiled food’ option, the ambiguity of the description let curiosity order. The boiled food was a boiled banana, dumpling and potatoes, the mellow tastes complementing the subtle spice of fried chicken perfectly. It was a feast, a mini banquet, the tastes were beautiful and we were disappointed not to squeeze a desert in. There is nothing I like better than to see satisfied faces around the dinner table, the food turning into the subject matter, and nodding in approval that “we went somewhere different”. Everything about this place makes me want to recommend. It isn’t the glossy chain, you don’t get what you expect, instead you get a plate in front of you that has a story, another culture filled dish, made with love and pride.

Much to the appreciation of our guests, they were thrilled to not go to a chain. I am forever wanting to try different foods, finding back street cafes big enough for about 4 people, or street food with lingering smells that invite you in, but not going to mass restaurant chains. They are popular because you know what to expect, the menus normally have safe go-to options and you don’t have to think about hunting somewhere else, perhaps it is more convenient or genuinely find the ambiance and food appealing. But there are so many delicious restaurants and eateries around that expose you to such amazing food that I can’t go back to chains, not when I have been to the other side, not when there are so many independent businesses offering up food that I’ve never tasted, offering a culture other than the one I’m used to. I like to support these places and enjoy finding them, hidden gems, to use a cliche but they really are.

Food is so much more than an eating habit, for me it is my favourite social activity, at university we would pass up a night out for a dinner party, bring a dish and a bottle and plenty of conversation, I miss those days. When I was younger I remember getting my nice dress on for a “dinner out Friday”, it always felt special. We weren’t sat around our dinner table, mundane and boring from too many after-school dinners, predictable and rushed, too eager to play we would finish our dinner with fork fulls of leftovers ,much to the dismay of my mother. But eating out meant we were fresh in surroundings, the adrenaline of doing something different encouraged interaction and with the lack of distraction meant we caught up as a family, acknowledged each other and listened to stories of the week.


A sentimental skyline

This was taken from the Berliner Dom, The cathedral that, to me, stands perfectly and beautifully in one of the many hearts of Berlin.

There were other places I could go to reach a view of the city’s skyline but I went here, I chose here because it was subtly stunning. It was high up but, not too high up to cause vertigo and turning stomachs. I looked up here everyday, I saw the light blue autumn sky shift to a glowing pink, mirroring the fresh coloured cheeks of unwrapped pedestrians. I remember feeling my cheeks with an ungloved finger, blushed, Ice cold and freezing.

As I walked the spiralling staircase I noticed how quiet and alone I was up here, there was a haunting echo of footsteps that were too far behind to offer any company. Following the trail climbing more steps, opening doors, closing them behind me, looking at notices, please keep all belongings close,  tightly grasping my camera I stepped out, emerging through a narrow, low door onto the rooftop of the building I had admired for many days, weeks before.

The contrast of the stale magnolia walls inside, with the subtle pinks and blues merging in blissful harmony, was truly heart-warming. The blood rushed round my body causing adrenaline which added more to the fear of being up so high, I was in a state of bewilderment.

Seeing the skyline from here, was and is, sentimental, seeing the high and low patterns from buildings large and small, creating a wispy silhouette. I can never forget how the clouds looked so modest in the distance, blending with baby blues and blushing pinks, the burning orange of the sun, slowly descending for the day. And seeing the ups and downs, the . It felt as if the city slowed down, it took a pause, the day was closing but it had no need to rush like it did in the morning. The lethargic end to the day made my beating heart calm, this is a beautiful moment I will remember this for the rest of my life.

Do you hold a connection and admiration for a view you have seen and remembered the most?

A Winter Postcard

This week has been very busy, I have officially become a Graduate and it was a beautiful day. An experience I will never forget, a wholesome and gracious day of thanks to friends and family who have become a sturdy support system over the past three years and beyond.

I was returning to my university town from a different perspective, one of knowingly not returning for a while, one where I wouldn’t be a habitant or a temporary resident. Falmouth in Cornwall became my home for the majority of the year during my studies, I had an alternating relationship with my university town. I would start my first semester in Autumn and slowly as the days were growing shorter and the winds off the shore were quickening, it became cold and dark and constricted what we could do with our time after college. It was a lonely time for the town. Daphne Du Maurier writes about Cornwall and the harsh winters in many of her books,In Jamacia Inn her description of the Bodmin moors and their destructive winters poigniantly portray the realities that the season brings with it and you can’t help but feel isolated and cold.

Falmouth was hit hard by its winters. The number of tourists rapidly decreased as the distant location meant that the flow of tourists didn’t make their way down to Falmouth peninsula. It was noticeable, the winds were damaging in more ways than one, their economy must have taken a hit, apart from the influx of students keeping it a float I wonder how small tourist towns can survive and whether locally, the town find these quiet months intolerable or whether they find solace in the hushed atmosphere of their home town, a time for the town to relax as it waits in apprehension for the summer foreigner. I found that I was seasonally affected by the winter, my friends and I were confined to our houses, not a lot of activities were orientated around the cold except an expensive cinema showing older releases and lots of restaurants and bars which required pennies in our pockets. There is plenty of land to be discovered and shore lines to admire but in these winter months it is a struggle to find anything that will amuse and keep you warm.

As the clocks are adjusted forward and the sun begins to heat the coasts, spring arrives and moves swiftly to summer.  The image of the sea side town becomes more desirable and I blessed my inhabitance  in Cornwall. Summer offers so much in comparison to Winter. It literally transforms in every aspect, regular markets bringing in food locally sourced and seasonally selected, tourists flock in abundance and make walking through the narrow  streets a struggle, certain shops re-opens and the sea becomes a bright, bright blue. A postcard vision.

I was never a tourist to Falmouth, I knew it to well, I had seen the worst side of it and had been lucky enough to see it at its best. To a tourist it has to be one of the most idyllic scenes in Britain. Sometimes I wonder if I had only seen Falmouth as a tourist, if my perception of it would be greater. But having lived there it has more depth, I understand its personality as it changes with the seasons. My closest example where I felt that perhaps I was seeing my town from the tourist point of view was during graduation. I was only there for two days so I lapped up the mini holiday and relished in the views of the beautiful Cornish coasts. I was staying in luxury compared to my previous student accommodation and drinking champagne in celebration so it’s no wonder why I found the whole town incredibly appreciated. I was grateful to see my town this way, I remembered the tough winters and the emptiness, I empathised with sea-side towns hibernating for winters to be contrasted with business and over whelming summer numbers. From seeing this perspective it made me wonder about my relationship to place. Does familiarity hinder what we see? Is it reducing our interpretation of place and space? If we could put on the tourist gaze would we, or is it better to see the good times and bad times, so we as inhabitants can build relationships rather than a passing impression?

Winter looms.

The beginnings of Summer

I love this city, it has my heart.

I probably am a little bias to think that the city I live in is one of the best I’ve ever been to. I guess you either love, hate, or are indifferent to the place you grow up in. I have friends who can’t wait to get to the city, to turn their backs on narrow country lanes, farm yard smells and village neighbourhoods,  in favour of moving to the abundant energy of the bustling urban environment. Then others who despise the cities they live in, and they crave for open spaces and picturesque dusks and dawns. The grass is always greener. But whilst I do love the countryside and I am partial to a long wander in the rolling hills that surround Bristol,I am a home fan, a supporter of my birthplace. I love Bristol, it has my heart. I think why I admire it so much is because I am constantly learning something new about it. If you walk any where in Bristol new or old,  you will find something inspiring and different.

Bristol sits in the South-West of England, some refer to it as the capital of the South-West, I can definitely agree to that title. Technically I don’t live in Bristol, yes I do have a Bristol postcode but it is quite possibly the last and most distant postcode of the infamous BS1. Think what you like but I do live in Bristol. To be honest Keynsham is a 15 minute drive form the centre of Bristol, and it is a place where you practically know someone who knows that person, is a thriving little community boasting weekly markets  and a high-street mainly full of three types of shops: Coffee, Charity and banks. Something for everyone but if that’s not what takes your fancy Eastenders, BBC’s and the United Kingdoms most lovedsoap, is being filmed here next week. The high-street will be closed from 6pm -6am. Hold tight on a blog on this, Keynsham gets excited by the little things.

Back to Bristol because I am a Bristolian, regardless of what the majority of my city dweller friends think.  Bristol has the most beautiful famed and modest bridges, cobbled stones contrasting with new builds that are architecturally stunning. And I couldn’t talk about Bristol without mentioning the B word, Banksy, but the its not only Banksy but the whole of Bristol is artistically engaged, graffiti not only by the man himself but a street full of up and coming artists work sprayed on a discreet entrance to the cities central shopping district. There is a river and plenty of places to sit by it, grazing spots everywhere, where you can spend hours lolling around and it feels like a couple of minutes. Things to do and see, things to say and things to experience. Its big enough to keep you busy but small enough that bumping into a friend is normal. It’s not just me who loves Bristol about a 80% of people I went to University with have moved here. One of my best friends has just moved here, I thought I would spare her a few days before I went to visit her new home but in Bristol you are sure enough going to have a chance meeting. On my way back from work, a dull day at work may I add, I saw Sophie standing there in the distance I stopped and waited until she saw me, it was a surprise but I knew it would happen sooner or later.

Today the city was full of buzz as the annual Bristol Open Doors Day meant that places that are usually restricted to the public are opened, tours take you around behind the scenes of the working city. There was a chance to go underground Temple Meads train station, to see the old air raid shelter. You could go in old churches and backstage at the famous Colston Hall. The city was shining, literally the sun was out and it was a hot September day. People had flocked to the city and with beers and ciders they were relaxing by the river. It is a beautiful Saturday and Bristol makes the most of these days.

If you are ever in the South West, make a trip to Bristol, you will always have me, your Bristolian friend to guide you round the ins and outs and all arounds of my favourite city.

Bus, Stop.

I get two buses everyday to work. Four a day. Twenty a week. When I look at it this way it is no wonder why I have such blog worthy bus anecdotes to write about. If I’m being completely honest I don’t really like buses. I’m not one of those transport snobs, honestly I’m not, give me a train journey, or the simple lack of comfort from easy jet and I’m fine. But buses, well they are, I don’t quite know how to put it politely so I won’t, they are dirty, hot, perhaps steaming, cauldrons of people, and all sorts of people, always lots of people.

I travel in the rush hour zones. I become increasingly in contact with those who answer ‘no’ to the ‘are you a morning person?’ question. I’m no spring chicken in the morning and I have cut out coffee with my breakfast, so that I can drink more at work, thus meaning I am barely functioning correctly, but I do look people in the eyes. I would nod good morning to those around me, desperately trying to grasp a sense of the ‘old days’ on ye’ buses, I never put my bag on the seat as a deterrent to new passengers. I’m not eager for the company but I try to make the morning run smoothly, for everyone.

Today I was a little unfortunate as my seat mate decided he would persist holding his iPad with extended elbows, compromising half my seat. I didn’t mind…trying not to let things bother me I let it slide over the top of my head. Like the morning mist his elbows would soon be gone, I wouldn’t care for them. More people started getting on, I realised my position meant that every leg that walked past would graze my left arm. I had to wiggle, I had to let him know via my wiggle of my discomfort, that I needed more room. He didn’t get the hint and I’m almost certain he turned his iPad up in an attempt to drown out my poor attempts at trying to communicate through the medium of a wiggle, to “move over, get your elbows out my face!” Maybe next time I’ll ask him politely, then I wouldn’t have a grazed by arm and a bad back.

The posture of the half seat isn’t one I’d recommend .