Tuesday, 4 September 2018

How I Dealt With Anxiety At a Festival - and what I wore!

So this weekend I attended the first festival for me, in over 10 years. 
Approaching the date, I was full of excitement. What I’d wear, what artists I’d see play there, the brands and the people behind them, who I’d meet and of course, exploring a city I’m not used to. But as it got closer, that excitement was quickly replaced by fear. That gripping tightness in my chest, the fear of being lost, the paranoid feelings of people not liking me or people making hurtful remarks. Would I stand out in all the wrong ways? Would I be judged? All these things that I hide deep inside yet tell other people to ignore or embrace. That contradicting feeling only adds to my anxiety and I struggle to keep focus on the simplest of tasks. 
Now this was a relatively small festival. Think a single stage, some food vendors and some fairground rides with no camping. But with all day performances over the course of two days. 

So here are a few of the things that I do or did, in order to help my worried brain out a little;

Know my route. 
Ok so this one seems a given, right? Know the stations or roads that you’d need to take to get to the venue so you know you are heading in the right direction. I suffer massively with the fear of being lost by myself and find if my travel route or thoroughfare are listed in some way, I’m less likely to panic. 

Take your time.
If I’m rushed, I have less time for my rational side of thinking things through properly. I try to leave earlier to create a more relaxed journey or pace myself and allow the fact that I may just well be late. 

Take time out
We all know that self care is more than just bath bombs and cleansing, right? It’s knowing how much you can physically cope with within the amount of time to do them in. Taking time to relax your mind and body will help with the bigger challenges. This weekend I made sure I got to sit in the bath the morning before the second day at the festival so that I could hear my thoughts in a tranquil setting. The same goes for when you are at the festival too. Finding a spot on the grass to sit down and take a break for a few minutes is always good. 

Know your exits
So sitting in a somewhat quiet area of a festival is often going to be met with noise, people, sometimes litter and when it all becomes too much, be sure to know where the nearest exit is so you can remove yourself for a short while to gain some space and peace. We were by the coast this weekend and it really helped to look out at the calming water and feel the breeze on my face when I got too flustered. 

These are just a few examples of what helped me this time in an unknown crowded place. Obviously anxiety affects people in a multitude of ways but knowing what triggers you can also be a massive help to ease a bad situation. I made sure to eat and drink well, steer clear of overly crowded spots, keep alcohol consumption to a limit and took taxis to and from the festival to avoid more people when I needed space. I did attend this festival with my husband which helped massively. I know that I wouldn’t have done so well without him, given that our hotel was so far away from the festival and out of town. It took 3 trains from Bristol to Liverpool and I found it mentally exhausting. It’s was such a comfort having someone I knew, with me.

Massive thank you to Alloutbeautyuk.com that not only invited me along to Fusion Festival but for being such wonderful hosts to myself and my husband. 

Irregular Choice - Deckchair Diva

Now, I’m certainly no stranger when it comes to colourful clothes. The brighter my hair, the louder the clothes, the more confidence I feel. 
So when Irregular Choice got in touch and asked if I’d like a pair of shoes to try, I couldn’t wait! Known for their crazy patterns, quirky styles and WILD heel designs, I just knew that they’d send me something simply amazing. 

They certainly didn’t disappoint!! 

Aren’t they incredible?!! With bold, contrasting colours to the toes, heart print to the sides and ICE CREAM SUNDAES for heels, I was simply blown away! Quite literally! I just knew I had to take these out straight away and where else but by the seaside. The sundaes made me think of 50s style diners, full of candy shades of pink and blue and although I don’t live near a diner, I do have some cute beach huts. Wind, rain, all the typical British weather that could blow my way did as soon as I reached the coast. Donning my favourite rain jacket, nothing was going to deter me from releasing my inner ‘Deckchair Diva’.

The Ashville Steak House- Review

Nestled away in a little back street off Coronation Road in Bedminster, you’d find a little pub that from the outside, looks no different to any other ‘local’. But The Ashville delivers so much more than a regulars watering hole, serving up some of the best quality meat South of Bristol. . 

When Socialight first invited me down to try out The Ashville, I had already known what I was in for as I had previously visited for a steak tasting social event. The sheer joy I felt, knowing I was to return to try yet more courses AND enjoy them with my husband was very exciting. 
If you’re no stranger to this blog, you’d be well aware that I’m very much a lover of meat in all forms. The rarer the better in my eyes! 

Arriving on a Thursday evening, I was surprised at just how busy The Ashville was. Not in an overcrowded way, there was a happy atmosphere with a large family party enjoying a feast at their table and several couples enjoying their date nights, possibly relishing a child free moment to chat and eat at their own pace. Something I’ve learned I need at least once a week to keep my sanity!
With its white washed walls, chunky wooden furniture and fairy light covered ceilings, I felt like I had stepped in to a little countryside Inn. I also loved the hand tied table flowers that gave the setting such a personal, homely feel.

We were greeted with a warm welcome from the owner, Sandor, who was friendly and attentive to all guests who were both dining and arriving. 
Seated at our table we were quickly salivating over the quite simple menu. Deciding which cuts of beef to have, which sides and sauces and wether we wanted starters or dessert more. With me, if you put cheese as a starter or dessert, I’m going to want one. So we decided to share a baked Camembert. This was off their Specials board, not the main menu. 

We could hear this little beauty before we even saw it! A hot, bubbling bowl of deliciousness that was the perfect size for one, but maybe on the smaller size for sharing. But for greedy folk like me, it was just perfect to whet my appetite before the main event. I did feel that the salad garnish was not needed but loved the thick cuts of toast for dunking.

Opting for our favourite cut, both my husband and I ordered the 10oz rib eye. I adore this tender cut, with its rich marbling of fat, I’m always guaranteed a juicy steak and this one made no exception. Perfectly cooked at medium rare, this steak was well seasoned and beautifully chargrilled. With each steak comes a generous portion of triple cooked chips, grilled tomato, onion and a salad. For me personally, I found the chips to be quite an effort to eat. Roughly chopped  in shape, these are pretty hard to the outside and not so fluffy on the inside and didn’t soak up the meat juice like I’d expect a good chip to. I’m not a great fan of salad with my steak and did leave it this time but my husband seemed to enjoy his.

Feeling pretty stuffed and suffering from a case of meat sweats, we ploughed in regardless and ordered a dessert to share. A generous slice of ginger cheesecake from the Specials board was the perfect ending to our meal. 

Our meal, although complimentary, was offered in return of a review. All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Sholay Indian Kitchen- Review

This month I was kindly invited down to Sholay Indian Kitchen at Wapping Wharfs Cargo development. Yet another offering in the ever diverse combination of food retailers that reside there. 
Sholay is run by the team behind the award winning The Mint Room in Clifton. Focusing on Indian street food, what this shipping container lacks in space, certainly makes up for in its food. Keeping its menu simple yet full of flavours whilst using the freshest, local produce. 
The container itself is compact but tastefully decorated with quotes and images from Bollywood films, including a beautiful mural that really takes centre stage.

Having been sat at our table on a particularly wet and rainy evening, we found Sholay to be rather busy but this didn’t distract the staff being super attentive and accommodating. 
The menu itself was simple and varied. Dining with my 16 year old daughter was no challenge, we wanted one of everything! With her being pescatarian, she found a wide range of things she could eat without feeling like she was missing out, something that we really appreciate.

Ordering a signature mojito, one rum and one virgin, we agonised over what dishes to order. There’s very little in the way of description on the menu so it was a little bit of a pot luck when it came to choosing. 
Waiting for our first lot of small plates, we gazed across the long shared bench at our neighbouring diners to guess which dishes they ordered, the open kitchen wafting amazing aromas our way and making us ravenous. Patience isn’t one of my strong points at the best of times! 

Being a meat lover, my first choice was the peshwari lamb cutlets (£8.50). Glazed with a house made marinade, grilled to perfection, served with house salad garnish.

Our favourite dish of the night, chilli paneer (£5). The menu stated that it was ‘practically addictive’ and they weren’t wrong. Sticky and tangy sweet with beautiful charred edges, we ordered a second plate! 

The kale and onion bhajis (£4.50) were everything a bhaji should be. Crispy yet light and full of punchy spice. 

Spy the second plate of paneer? 

For my main meal I went for Grandmas Curry. A medium spiced, hearty curry that tasted not too different from my own. On the bone chicken, vegetables and generous chunks of potato made for perfect comfort food and the side of bread was used for mopping up the left over broth. Just what I needed on this wet evening. 
My daughter went for the masala fish and chips (£12). The fish was firm and flaky, but a little on the dry side and lacked on flavour. A side of chutney would of been preferred over the pot of ketchup but the fries were crisp and seasoned beautifully. 
With more soggy customers turning up and the container getting a little more cramped, we finished our meal and left. Not before being offered a choice of kulfi for our travels. Went opted for the honey rose and it was the perfect way to end the meal. Sweet and creamy and reminiscent of milky lollies from my youth. We sat under a sheltered spot by the harbour and took in the twinkling lights of Bristol before heading home.
You can find them here;
Sholay Indian Kitchen, Cargo 2, Wapping Wharf, Bristol BS1 6ZA

Although I was offered this meal in exchange of a review, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Honest Burgers Bristol

Last week I headed down to Clare Street for a masterclass with Honest Burgers, the latest offering Bristol has in its forever expanding and competitive burger field. With owner Tom Barton,  proudly boasting that his burgers are the best in terms of quality in the UK, I knew I needed to try these for myself! 

After an intro from Tom about his journey from tiny stall holding, catering for friends and then in to the world of running a business, Honest Burgers is now a chain of 23 branches spanning the country. With some of the bigger burger chains failing to win over the ever loving independent market in Bristol, Honest Burgers has a lot to prove. 
During the earlier talk, we got to sample a solo patty. So tender that you could of cut it with a spoon-we didn’t! Seasoned at the point of cooking so no moisture was drawn out, you could taste the quality of the beef and the fat really sung out.

The restaurant itself was much like any other new restaurant here, using reclaimed wood, the mixture between long benches and comfy booths, instudial style lighting and light walls, it lets the food do the talking. 

The menu isn’t huge. With only 1 chicken and vegetarian option, the menu really focuses on the use of its (very good) beef patty. Using chopped chuck and rib cap and 20% fat in their patties ensure not only a juicy, flavoursome burger but they can also serve these medium rare due to being approved to do so due to high quality cuts of meat used.
All sauces and their rosemary chips are house made and all other produce are sourced locally. 

With a table full of hungry bloggers, we were given plates of chicken wings, onion rings and house sauces to try. 

When it came to choosing my burger, I went with The Bristol (£12.95) beef, Westcombe Dairy smoked cheddar and cheese curds, bacon, shoestring fries, white onion, cider gravy and pickles. What a beast!! 

As expected, the burger was superb! I loved the addition of the housemade pickles that cut through the meat and gave it a sharp crunch. The smoked cheese worked well with the saltiness of the bacon but sadly this meant I couldn’t really taste the cheese curds. Of course with this particular burger giving a nod to the classic poutine, I had high hopes for that expected cheesy squeak. 
All burgers came with a side of rosemary salted chips. They were the thick cut, skin on kind but possibly a little too salty for my taste. I couldn’t get enough of the side of cider and bacon gravy which was rich and deliciously sweet and I happily dunked anything I could in to it! 

It’s fair to say that Honest Burgers really did live up to the hype. Good, honest food without pretentious ingredients that left me feeling full up and satisfied. With the owners attitude, passion and knowledge, I really do hope they do well in Bristol. 

Although I received my meal in return of a review, all opinions are my own. 

Sunday, 8 July 2018

It’s All Good! Ft River Island Plus

Have you tried the River Island Plus range yet? After digging out last years wardrobe, I quickly realised I needed not only a few new clothes but opted for a bold new look. I love how River Island manage that chic, stylish look but with added character in their prints, fabrics and cuts, and I’m so glad they have tried to carry this through to their Plus range. During the summer months, it’s all too easy to pop on a simple dress or our favourite vest and shorts. But what about dressing up? Personally, when it’s blazing outside, the last thing I want is to wear something overly formal or fussy so I thought I’d go for something a little different for me. I browsed the plus section on the River Island page and instantly fell in love with these pink trousers.

I love the tie waist for that cinched in look, and the way the bottoms taper really show off my great legs. (I’m modest, I know!) I might have been swayed by the fact they cake in baby pink, but these also came in black. You can find them here. I ordered a size 22 to air in the side of caution but it wasn’t necessary as they were very generous in size, as was the t shirt. 

The T shirt added that fuss free feel but with a simple slogan on fresh white cotton, it gave it that clean sharp look. Unfortunately the T shirt is no longer available in plus size but a similar version can be found here or here.

The white curved heel shoes really set the outfit off. I love the pointed toe with the tapered trouser hem and although they have no straps, they are surprisingly comfy and easy to walk in.

Have you recently seen something from the range that caught your eye? X

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Review; Salt and Malt, Chew Valley Lake

Lat week I had the most wonderful meal at Salt and Malt at their Chew Valley lake residence.
Now, even after living in Bristol for over 8 years and getting married just down the road from Chew Magna, I had still never had the pleasure of visiting this beautiful place. 
A vast stretch of reservoir nestled in the foot of both the Dundry and nearby Mendip hills, this little restaurant had the most amazing scenic views. 
We arrived a little earlier than planned so took a little walk around, taking in the sunset over the lake and feeding some ducks on the bank. The restaurant itself is right by the car park so it’s easy to find and there is a little playground outside, perfect for those with young children.

The restaurant itself was wonderfully spacious, light and well ventilated. With large pull open doors that can we opened in summer to give that lovely ‘outside, in’ feel. 
We were received with a warm welcome from the lovely Zowie who couldn’t of been more attentive. The staff were an absolute credit to this restaurant and made us feel incredibly special. Something I’ve found quite rare lately.
My husband and I were seated at our table, right by the glass doors so we could watch the sun setting which obviously was the best place to be sat. Enjoying a cold glass of house white, we salivated over the restaurants new tapas menu, wanting one of everything! 

The new ‘Tapas Tuesday’ menu featured plenty of seafood choices, as well as vegetarian options for the reasonable price of £3.50 per plate or 3 for £10. 
After agonising what we would go for, this is what we decided on;

This was my ultimate favourite. So much so that I ordered it twice! Curried brown butter shrimp on toast. This was heaven.

Seeing as we were at a fish and chip restaurant, I couldn’t help but order something deep fried. Halloumi with a side of chilli jam really hit the spot!

One of the nights show stoppers. Cured sea bass with orange. Incredibly light and flavoursome 

Crispy cod cheeks with a chorizo dip. The fish was beautifully firm and flaky, with a sweetness enhanced by the salty, smoky chorizo.

My husbands favourite. A punchy dish of squid with chilli and peanuts

An absolute beast of a crab claw, with a generous pot of garlic aioli for dunking. 

If that lot wasn’t enough, we shoved a pudding in too! Cinnamon Creme Brûlée with apple sorbet. Stuffed!!

It goes without surprise that Tapas Tuesday runs every Tuesday, with the full regular menu on offer too and you’ll also get 50% off your bottle of wine too. The restaurant has a no dog policy within the restaurant but are more than welcome, should you dine outside on the terrace. Salt and Malt is also fully accessible to disabled customers.