Top 5 Things I Did In Bristol This Summer

1. Harbour Festival

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I do my best to plan my visits to Bristol around my favourite festival, the Bristol Harbour Festival. I'm in love with how, for a full weekend, the floating harbour is heaving with ships and boats of all varieties, all-day entertainment, and markets as far as the eye can see. I always come back with something from a local independent creative and this time it was some lovely earrings from Amy at Ameow Designs. I picked up some pretty drop earrings made with Delphiniums and gold leaf, as well as a sweet pair of studs made with Gypsophilia.

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2. Gromit Unleashed 2 Trail

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So far I've been lucky enough to be able to make it to all of the Grand Appeal's trails (Gromit Unleashed 2013, Shaun in the City 2015, and Gromit Unleashed 2 2018). This year's trail was so much fun because it included Wallace, Gromit, and Feathers! I downloaded the app and was able to check off 40 of the 67 sculptures this summer. I also made a quick and easy donation at the main office but, this year, there were handy-dandy contactless (aka tap) stations all around the trail which made helping the Grand Appeal that much easier. I had so much fun this year exploring many new-to-me areas of Bristol thanks to the trail.

3. Tyntesfield

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2012 was the first time I had ever heard of Tyntesfield and I've been meaning to visit it ever since. I was finally able to get there this year and, thanks to my National Trust for Canada membership, I was able to get in for free! The Gibbs family home (for 4 generations) is, obviously stunning, and knowing that the house is still furnished with all their possessions makes the visit that much more humbling. From the light fixtures and libraries, to the paintings and parlours, Tyntesfield is a must-visit. The most stunning feature though is actually the gardens which are lovingly maintained by 7 staff members. They've definitely had a challenge this year considering how hot it's been in Bristol!

4. Bristol Lido

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I've been to the Bristol Lido (Lee-doh/Lie-doh?) before and had an amazing time so this visit I decided to treat myself to a full spa-aahhhhhhhhh day. What a relaxing, glorious day that was! I had a much-needed de-stressing neck, back, and arm massage, followed by a cozy tea in the relaxation room. Then I moved onto my two-course meal from their restaurant. After that I went for nice swim in the pool, followed by some calming time in the sauna. Just what the doctor ordered.

5. Re-Affirmed My Love For Bristol

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Spending months at a time away from Bristol, I inevitably start to question whether or not I should keep going back to visit and if I should make other plans for my life instead. Getting to Bristol every year from my region of Canada is not cheap. Also, the hope I have for one day moving there permanently can seem like an impossible dream. There are so many roadblocks in my way to making that happen. This trip I took some time to really reflect on my love for Bristol and to make some tough decisions. Although I now have a plan B (Toronto), moving to Bristol within the next 2 years is absolutely my plan A. This city means WAY TOO MUCH to me. Every single time I visit, I actually become happier and I seem to grow as a person.  This place does things to me emotionally that no place has ever done. I feel like the best me I can be and I feel at home in Bristol. I love this city and I'm so grateful for every single experience I've ever had here, from 2011 to today. ♥

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Back To The Motherland!

A lot has been happening over the last month but the most exciting thing was that I got to spend 2 whole glorious weeks in the UK!

My place of employ have been very generous with me this year. In March they sent me to San Francisco for our company's annual conference, and then in September they sent me and 3 of my colleagues to the TCUK conference held in Nottingham, UK which was hosted by the ISTC.

Although there wasn't much time for being a tourist during the conference, I did find a couple of hours to see a few sights:

After the conference was done, I took the long train ride from Nottingham down to my beloved Bristol. This trip was actually a secret trip because I've known about it for months but I didn't tell a single Bristol friend that I was coming! They knew nothing! I was really looking forward to surprising my Bristol Bestie, Lara and, although my original fun plan to show up at her work on her lunch hour was thwarted, my eventual reunion with my good friend wasn't any less joyful let me tell you!

While I was in Bristol I met up with another good friend, Jess, and then serendipitously ran into another friend Leila! Along with getting to meet up with the rest of my "Bristol Fam" a couple of times, this surprise trip really did my heart and soul very good.

To me, as Canadian as I am, Bristol is my home. I've said it many times that it's where my heart lives and I truly feel that way. Being away from my friends and my fam for long periods of time can weigh heavy. So this trip was a great homecoming.

What made it even more special was that my mother was able to join me a few days after I arrived in Bristol! I'm so glad that she's able to be my travel buddy on all these trips. Once again, I dragged her all over the place on as many adventures as we we could fit in, in a week. Our favourite little getaway was our trip to Clevedon. We visited the Clevedon Pier, popped into all the little shops, and had a lovely glass of wine at The Cellar. While we were visiting the Pier, we made the decision to purchase a plaque and I just got word the other day that it's been created and placed on the bench at row 184! Here's the photo they sent me:

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All in all it was a fantastic trip and, although leaving is always very difficult for me, I know in my heart that someday I'll end up living there again and that's a day I look forward to very much.

Here's some photos from my Bristol visit:

Home Away From Home: Bristol, UK (Part 1)

In 2011 I began visiting Bristol, UK and since then I've visited a total of 7 times and even moved there in 2015 for 8 months. I consider this city my home away from home. I love Bristol so much that if I could have one wish, it would be to return and live there permanently until my dying day.

Although this is not a complete list of all my favourites (there wouldn't be enough space on this entire blog to list ALL of them), here is part 1 of some of my favourite places to see and things to do in the city's more central areas, should you ever find yourself in Bristol. I've tried to keep each category down to 2-3 recommendations.

Stay tuned for Part 2 soon!

1. The "touristy" stuff:

Clifton Suspension Bridge

The one thing Bristol is most known for is Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge. Be sure to take a walk across the bridge for some spectacular views of the city. Also, since you're already there, go visit the Clifton Observatory to view the Camera Obscura and, if you dare, make your way down a tunnel into the depths of Giant's Cave and emerge onto St. Vincent's Rocks on the cliff face.

SS Great Britain

If you can only do one thing in Bristol, let it be a visit to the SS Great Britain. I've visited this ship now 4 times and I've learned and seen something new each time. The entry fee is £14 but it's well worth the money and you get free unlimited return visits for a year! Believe me when I say you can easily spend an entire afternoon here. For the daredevils out there you can even climb the rigging for an extra £10!

The Matthew of Bristol Avon Gorge Trip

If you're able, try to do a morning trip on The Matthew of Bristol down the Avon Gorge. Although there are a few tour companies that offer this trip, nothing beats floating down the gorge on The Matthew. It is something very special.

2. Sightseeing:

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Bristol is known for its hot air balloons in the spring/summer season. I took a ride in one in July of 2015 (when I snapped this photo) and it's an experience I won't soon forget! Try either Bailey Balloons or Bristol Balloons--both are very well known and operate regularly.

Harbour Ferry Tour

For a very reasonable fee, you can enjoy a fun cruise on Bristol's floating and inner harbours with Bristol Ferry Boats.  You can essentially leave The Pump House and get all the way to Temple Meads and back within about an hour. If you like being on the water, this is a cheap way to enjoy Bristol's harbourside.

Bristol Insight Hop-On Hop-Off

If you're like me, you love it when a city has a hop-on hop off bus and, thankfully, Bristol does! Once you buy your ticket for the Bristol Insight tour, not only will you get a great tour of the city on an open top double-decker bus, you'll get great discount vouchers at other major touristy spots like the Bristol Zoo Gardens, Bristol Blue Glass, and the Bristol Aquarium!

3. Areas:

Clifton Village

Clifton Village is full of unique little shops, great coffee spots, Georgian history, a beautiful arcade, and gorgeous green spaces. Be sure to find the Birdcage Walk--one of my favourite little "not-so-secret, secret" areas.

Southville & Bedminster

If you like independent shops, bars, restaurants and have an eye for art, then you must visit the Southville & Bedminster area of Bristol. Every year in July they celebrate Upfest which you won't want to miss if you're around there that time of year. If not, be sure to see all the previous year's street art on almost every building on North Street. Make a stop at Lounge, which is my all-time favourite spot in this area.

4. Food and Drink:

Marco's Olive Branch

The ambiance, the food, the staff, the prices--it's all fantastic at Marco's Olive Branch. I've been there a few times now to dine in and take away and I've never left disappointed. They serve authentic Sardinian Italian and, just thinking of their food, makes my mouth water. If you're looking for something quick to take away, I'd suggest their pizzas. They're inexpensive and delicious.

The Apple

Since you're in cider country, you must visit The Apple. With around 40 different types of cider to choose from, this is the place to go if you're feeling up for a strong beverage or two or three...

The Cottage Inn

If you're down on the harbourside, be sure to pop in to The Cottage Inn. Order a drink and some food from the bar and then take it all outside to sit along the harbour steps with the rest of the locals. You'll fit right in.

Keep your eyes on my blog for Part 2, coming soon!