Bristol Balloon Fiesta – A Photographers View

Bristol Balloon Fiesta – A Photographers View

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

 

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, attracting over 130 Hot Air Balloons from across the globe. It is held on the second weekend in August for 4 days and is the highlight of every Bristolians calender. This was my first year attending as press and I was bursting with excitement to attend my first 6 am ascent. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas this year and the scheduled morning ascent on Friday 9th was not going ahead and was rescheduled for Thursday morning.

I set my alarm for 3 am and left the house at 3.45am for the drive to Bristol Ashton Court to collect my press pass. I was not going to miss what was likely to be the only assent for the whole weekend. When I eventually arrived on site ( the one-way system is a nightmare and I missed my turning soo many times!!) the atmosphere was electric. The excitement on the balloon field was so infectious and I felt like a kid on Christmas morning!

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

The field looks very unimpressive when I first arrived, a field of deflated balloons and land rovers everywhere. Whispers are heard double guessing if the balloons will be given the all-clear to fly. The announcer comes over the speakers to let us know a decision has been made. Coloured smoke will fill the air with the board’s decision. Red is a no go, Amber for tethering only and Green for an assent. Silence hangs over the field waiting for the smoke. Its a green and we have lift off! The noise of the burners and air inflating the balloons has to be the most thrilling noise you will hear at a balloon fiesta. The smell of the burners, watching the deflated balloons come to life is magical.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

 

The first balloon to take off was the Thatchers Cider hot air balloon. All around me balloons start to fill the air. The shaped balloons are the highlight of the weekend and this year a go fund me page was set up to bring Darth Vader back to Bristol, and he came! I had so much fun and was so thrilled to see my first ascent. Hopefully next year I will have the opportunity to take a flight at the 2020 Bristol Balloon fiesta. There is so much more to see at the fiesta than the hot air balloons. Unfortunately, at the time I was there the funfair was not open so I have no images, and to be honest I was so excited to see the balloons I forget to see what else was happening! There are food stalls, clothing stalls, lots of activities for the kids, a big wheel, craft tent, BBC Bristol and so much more.

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

I highly recommend visiting the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. It is a feast for the eyes, lots to do for all ages. Next year’s event takes place on August 6th-9th, 2020. Pop it in your calendar, you will not be disappointed.

NB: Please note all photos and words are my own, I was not paid to attend this event, I received a press pass on behalf of Bristol Bloggers

 

 

 

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The Roman Baths Spa

The Roman Baths Spa

 

I have lived in Somerset for 3 years now, and when we lived in Bath, The Roman Baths I visited a couple of times but had never been to the torchlit nights they have on in the Summer. Last week I was invited by Socialight App to attend a torchlit night at The Roman Baths. We were so lucky with the weather, it was a beautiful summer evening.

The Roman Baths sit in the heart of the City of Bath a World Heritage Site, the natural hot springs are the only ones in Great Britain. Although you cannot bath in them today you can walk on the original pavements and take in the atmosphere of this stunning religious spa. The main entrance and reception is a sight to behold on its own. Beautiful domed ceiling and glittering chandeliers greet you. This is a newer addition to the Roman Spa added around 1700 -1800. Collect your free audio and make your way around the museum which includes a gilt bronze head of the Goddess Sulis Minerva, and other Roman artifacts. As you come out of the museum you will enter the top-level looking down on the baths which are situated below street level.

Statues of Roman Emperors look down at the baths keeping a watchful eye. You can see the iconic Bath Abbey when looking at the above photo. What I love about the baths are the local Roman men and women who wander around in character telling their stories and answering your questions. I met the local stonemasons. This is a lovely way to bring the Spa and museum alive and perfect for children to visit.

You may ask why is the water green?

The familiar green hue of the pool is not the result of mystery, but algae, caused by the water’s exposure to the open air. In Roman times, the pool was roofed over, its waters were much clearer. A periodic clean of the Roman Baths involves draining the natural thermal water and brushing the floor to remove algae. It is believed if you drink the spa water it will cure your ailments. At the end of your visit do try a cup at the fountain on your way out.

 

For me, the magic is when the torches are lit. The stone glows in the torchlight and a wave of tranquility envelopes the baths as people sit quietly taking in the historic site whilst sipping on champagne from the bar. The golden light and enhanced reflections in the green waters are magical.

On leaving the Roman Baths why not stop for dinner and cocktails in the Pump Room, or a High Tea before you pop in. A favourite for me is sitting outside The Roman Baths kitchen in the morning with a coffee on Abbey Church Yard listening to the busker’s and people watching.

Please note this experience was gifted to me by Socialight App. All photos and opinions are my own.

The Roman Baths

The Pump Room

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Pride Month – Is Every Month

Pride Month – Is Every Month

June marks Pride Month, and as much as I don’t believe in dedicated days and months to remember or celebrate something, LGBT issues are very close to my heart.
This month if only a handful of people learn something new about the hardships that the LGBTQ community has suffered over the years. I’m happy.

As a mum to a son who falls under the LGBTQ “banner”, I am always educating myself and those around me on the emotional impact it has on us as a family and my sons daily life.
I really wish that we as a society didn’t feel the need to attach labels to how people present themselves. It really shouldn’t matter what gender we present as, if any, what our sexual preferences are. We are all human beings with feelings who just want to go to school and learn, socialize, work hard at our day job, shop for groceries just like everybody else.
Believe it or not, this is not the case for so many still today!

 

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
On June 28th, 1969 there was a police raid on Stonewall Inn,  a gay bar in the Greenwich Village New York. A violent, multi-day rebellion after patrons of the bar resisted the discriminatory conditions they long endured. It is said that these riots began when a patron “threw the first brick” at a police officer in response to the unjust raid. June was chosen to mark Pride Month to remember those who stood up and fought for their right to love who they wanted to in 1969. Many Pride events are held in June although here in the UK many major cities choose July to hold Pride Month.

 

My family and I have attended several Pride events here in the UK and Copenhagen. Pride celebrates everyone, celebrates love and community. It’s the community that comes across the strongest. No judgment, no sideway looks . Just love and support. I’ve met so many people from all walks of life and ages at a Pride event. I always leave with tears rolling down my face, smiling from ear to ear, my heart full of PRIDE.
A day at Pride is full of all emotions.
I highly suggest everyone attend their local Pride event this year and see for yourself that the LGBTQ community is a wonderful, beautiful community.

Can you actually believe that over 72 countries in 2019 still criminalize gay marriage? We are blessed to live in the UK where my son can love and marry who he wishes, be the gender he chooses to be comfortable with. I am not ignorant to think that there are still many people that don’t feel the same, and these people need to be educated, talk to someone who falls under the LGBTQ+ banner. My son is an amazing person with a huge open heart, who understands that some people still need to be educated. I want to see all schools teach our children the history of the LGBTQ+ community, I want to see teachers and health professions be trained more on LGBTQ+ mental health.

 

1 in 2 transgender people will attempt suicide, this is a horrendous statistic that needs to be addressed. I am sure this was a statistic that was true of the gay community 20+ years ago, now it is the transgender community. I could write pages on this subject but for now, I will leave you with some great resources if you are touched by any of these issues or wish to understand more about the LGBTQ+ community. Please also feel free to contact me if you wish. One day I hope to write more openly about my journey as a mum to a son under this umbrella. When my son is ready for me to talk he will let me know.

Why not google when and where your nearest Pride celebrations are taking place? London Pride is this weekend 6/7 and Bristol Pride is 13/7. We will be flying our rainbow flags and wearing all the glitter we can find next weekend, celebrating our amazing, unique son.

Resources :

Stonewall Charity 

MindOut

Mermaids

Films :

Pose – BBC Iplayer Series

Pride – Movie

 

 

 

Visit Bath Tour

Visit Bath Tour

Abbey Hotel Bath

I had the great pleasure of being invited onto the Bath Makers trip hosted by Visit Bath a couple of weeks ago. We moved to Bath a couple of years ago and like anywhere you live after a time it becomes a habit and you don’t notice all the new places popping up around you. Bath is full of amazing independent shops and businesses, it was great to see Bath through new eyes now we have moved to Frome.

Day 1

Our first stop was to meet at the newly furnished Abbey Hotel for coffee where we would be staying for the night too. Abbey Hotel is a boutique luxury hotel in the heart of Bath, the perfect location to visit all the stunning attractions and shopping Bath has to offer. Only a stones throw away from Bath Abbey and The Roman Baths.

Lunchtime was upon us and Acorn Restaurant were our hosts for lunch. Acorn is an award-winning, innovative vegan food restaurant in the heart of Bath. I was very excited to eat here as it had been on my list for a while now to visit. Richard Buckley owner and head chef treated us to a sumptuous taster menu with a flight of wines. All the crockery used are sourced from local artists which I loved. Our first course came out on a local Frome artist plates Jenny Barton ! I absolutely loved our first course, a coffee infused cauliflower core served on a bed of hazelnut polenta. There was just a subtle hint of coffee which you would never imagine working, but Richard makes cauliflower taste pretty special! This was served with a white Riesling. Other delights were donkey carrots roasted in saffron with parsley powder, almonds with truffle oil. How Richard can get so much taste in a powder is a miracle! The interior is modern and light , with secret nooks for a more intimate dinner.

Acorn Restaurant Bath

With our tastebuds tickled and our bellies full it was time to move on too Bath Aqua Glass Centre to try our hand at glass blowing. A traditional glassblowing & stained glass studio located in Bath. Bath Aqua Glass is famous for its Cremation Ashes glass collection. They do workshops, hen parties, and birthday parties. I am going to take my teens to make baubles at Christmas for the tree.

Next stop was a browse around interiors store Graham and Green on Walcot Street, the artisan quarters in Bath. It has been lovingly transformed from a former 20th century bake house, restoring many of its original features to add character to this unique store. I was in interiors heaven browsing sheepskin seat pads, cushions galore, linen bedlinen and Ubiety candles.

Stroll down to Kingsmead Square and the best gelato in Somerset awaits us at Swoon. I have to admit I am a regular here. My favourite being the pistachio. The pistachios are sourced from Bronte in Sicily. All their gelato’s are churned on site! Pop in and sit at the back and you may be lucky enough to see the gelato being made in person.

Swoon Gelato Bath

After filling our boots on gelato we made our way across the road to Grace and Ted. A curated collection of pre-owned designer clothing, shoes and accessories for men and women. I have actually purchased a beautiful Coach bag from here when we first arrived in Bath. A great treasure trove of clothing. I had my eye on a Chanel evening dress …in my dreams!

Grace and Ted Bath

We then wandered onto Le Vignoble an independent wine lounge with over 250 different wines, champagnes and liqueurs from all over the world. I love the idea of wine tasting on tap, with samples from 80p what a great night out and Sommeliers to advise. We were greeted with a tapas platter containing French cheeses, saucisson, cured hams, olives, bread and dip. I had an all cheese platter with a lovely glass of Sancerre.

Le Vignoble Bath

After a rest back at The Abbey Hotel we then make our way to dinner at the newly opened Koffmanns and Mr White’s. Serving a mix of French and English classics. After a day of eating and drinking I was glad to start our meal with a light salad. I am a vegetarian, so my main dish was a mushroom polenta packed full of flavour. After dinner we were guests in the Art Bar. I absolutely love the concept here of a curated gallery of local artist constantly changing , and all available to purchase. The tables have art books and pencils for you to doodle in as well. Such a fun idea! The Art Bar serves bespoke cocktails of which we were treated with a specially made cocktail for our party.

Day 2

Breakfast was served in Koffmanns and Mr Whites. I enjoyed a delicious serving of poached eggs on gluten free bread and free flowing coffee.

Today we were off to VV Rouleaux for a ribbon flower head dress workshop. I am like a kid in a sweet shop when it comes to trimmings and buttons and such!  I was totally in my element here. At the back of the shop is an atelier where they hold workshops and make bespoke pieces. We were taught how to make flowers using wired ribbon and then attach to a headband. Very simple but so effective. By the end of the hour we were all channeling our inner Frida Khalo!

VV Rouleaux Bath

Lunch was at Beckford Bottle shop near the Assembly Rooms in Bath. Wow this restaurant is full of surprises. A huge wine shop greets you at one end of the shop, the restaurant at the other. Downstairs is the wine cellar and private dining room as well as a casual lounge are with open fire. As we sat down to our table, the food and wine just kept flowing. As a vegetarian I was not to be disappointed at the choice of plates on our table. Most memorable was the beetroot , balsamic vinegar with goats cheese and the marrow frittes and alioli. The tempur batter was so light and melted in the mouth.

Beckford Bottle Bath

My favourite bookstore in Bath is Toppings and Company. It was a pleasure to meet the staff and be given a tour of the shop all whilst sipping Earl Grey tea, which everyone will be welcomed with . Free tea and coffee and comfy chairs are part of the laid- back atmosphere here at Toppings. They hold regular book talks from local and International  artists, of which I have been to a couple and thoroughly enjoyed. The store itself is a sight to behold, beautiful wooden book shelves jammed packed with books, glass vases filled with fresh flowers await you.

Toppings and Company Bath

Next we visited The Good Day Cafe , and its name did not disappoint. The decor is pink, neon lights,  glass topped tables filled with succulents, modern pink velvet sofas all accessorised with cacti! An absolute Instagrammers dream lol. And the food and drinks was pretty photogenic too. I had a super beetroot latte and a slice of gluten free cake. I’ll definitely will be back here for my pink fix!

Good Day Cafe Bath

Our final independent shop was Chanii B, a designer shoe shop in Milsom Place. Chantal greeted us with her warm smile and champagne. Seriously what can be more fun than shopping for designer shoes and sipping on champagne! Chanii B Shoes and Accessories is a luxury shoe brand based in Bath, designed and created by internationally renowned designer Chantal Pilon.

Bath is such a beautiful city and we only touched the surface of the wonderful independent shops, cafes and restaurants that can be found here. If you are looking for a city break, book your self in for a couple of nights at The Abbey Hotel and start to explore the amazing diverse selection of places that Bath has to offer.

Thank you to Visit Bath for having me .

NB : This trip was gifted

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72 Hours in Prague

72 Hours in Prague

 

Be still my beating heart, Prague you have stolen my heart… From streets that make me feel like I am part of a Hans Christian fairytale, to sipping on cocktails in a Art Nouveau American bar, I am coming back .

This March, my husband and I had a short break in Prague meeting with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. Prague was not on my destination list, I hadn’t heard anything about Prague so was intrigued to get googling.

Well I was not to be disappointed , it was a photographers dream.  I started to put together my list of places to visit , eat and drink, and lucky for you it is all here in this post for your next visit to Prague.

We flew with Easy Jet from Bristol airport and stayed at the Hotel Basada Prague.

Day one

Unfortunately it was rather grey and wet when we arrived, but that did not stop of us buying an umbrella and heading onto the streets of Prague. First stop was Mysak.

Opened in 1911 and redesigned in 2017 Mysak has been a staple for decades  , even under Communism, with a focus on speciality coffees and drop dead gorgeous pastries. I had a cronut type of pastry which was delicious!

We then headed onto the Leica gallery where Marek Musil “Burning Man” exhibition was on. Do check Leica Gallery web page for their current exhibitions. They also have a coffee shop.

Next stop was Wenceslas Square in New Town where many demonstrations, celebrations and public gatherings occur. The main star attraction for me was this Art Nouveau Hotel that reminded me of Wes Anderson. The Grand Hotel Europa is currently boarded up and has been sold to J W Marriott and is scheduled to open in 2020. Will be interesting to see how they renovate this beautiful piece of architecture.

It was my husbands birthday that week so I booked us a table at Hergetova Cihelna ,  a lively and stylish restaurant on the bank of Prague`s Vltava river with a spectacular view of the Charles Bridge.

We sipped pink champagne , dined on sumptuous food and enjoyed breath taking views of the Charles Bridge.

I highly recommend either of the restaurants by the Kampa Group for a special occasion. Stunning views, mouth watering food and attentive service.

Day Two

Up early for breakfast and we caught the tram no 22 to Prague Castle. The no 22 is the most scenic tram route so well worth jumping on for a view of Prague.

Prague Castle dates back to 870 and boasts several different architectural styles including Gothic and Romanesque. The cathedral is stunning and well worth the queues.

Beware it is a steep walk up to the castle but well worth it for the breath taking views of the city.

Within the walls of the castle is Golden Lane and is included in the price of your ticket. A row of brightly coloured houses that were once residential cottages. Now it houses gift shops, and a armour museum.

We then headed into Mala Strana, also know as Lesser Town for a bite to eat. This was by far one of my favourite areas of Prague, beautiful cobbled streets and stunning buildings with handprinted Murals decorating the walls. Charles Bridge connects Lesser Town and Old Town by foot.

We had an amazing Czech lunch at Magistra Kelly, traditional Czech food and good beer and wine for less than £20 for two (starter, main course and alcohol). Not the easiest place to find and quite a walk, but so worth it!

I had Knedlíky or dumplings,  the Czech side dish made from potato flour and boiled in water as a roll and then sliced and served hot. Peter and our friends had Guláš (pronounced as “goulash“) Goulash (guláš in Czech) .

Prague is not very vegetarian friendly and I did struggle a little when looking for traditional fayre.

Ended our day walking across Charles Bridge and grabbing those all important photos!

The evening we went to The American Bar for cocktails which is located in  the Municipal House a stunning Art Nouveau decor with leather seating and a cosy atmosphere, followed by seeing  The Four Seasons by Vivaldi in the concert room. A snip at about £30 each for a box!

Day Three

Back to Old Town for a traditional Trdelník to be eaten. I opted for mine without the cream and just plain, dusted with cinnamon sugar! When in Prague….

Old Town as you can imagine is full of tourist shops but walk around some of the quieter alleys and you will find a few gems. This absinthe shop did not go unnoticed by my husband !

A must visit and not widely mentioned to see is the Prague Library .

The Klementinum library, a beautiful example of Baroque architecture, was first opened in 1722 and is the most beautiful library I have set my eyes on!

As well as the library you can visit the astronomical tower for outstanding views of Prague, not for those who are scared of heights mind. Steep spiral iron staircase takes you to the top of the tower. The high shutters are opened one by one to reveal the most breath taking views!

Do visit the website for stunning imagery and more info.

Peter and I then visited the Gallery of Art , an exhibition showcasing Dali, Mucha and Warhol. I have seen the Warhol exhibition in Hong Kong, there were many personal artefacts here that I had not seen before. And finally we made a quick visit to the John Lennon Wall !

We had the most amazing time, I highly recommend Prague as a destination to visit, preferably weekdays to avoid the stag do’s as beer is cheaper than soft drinks.

Unfortunately the Astronomical Clock was under repair when we visited Prague, hence no photos to show or mention.

Never enough time to try out all the places I wanted to visit so a few mentions below that have come highly recommended from other websites :

Cafe Savoy/Jewish Quarter/Lokal/Sisters Coffee Shop

Recommended Websites :

Gallery of Art Prague 

Taste of Prague 

NB : Please note all photos and words are my own

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