Bristol Shopping Trip – May 2019

As part of her birthday treat, I took my (just) 13 year old granddaughter to Bristol on a shopping trip.

We caught a through train from Paignton station so that we didn’t have to change. I got a good deal too – it pays to plan these things, £30 return for both of us!

bristol temple meads station
Bristol Temple Meads Station
platforms at bristol temple meads station
Platforms at Bristol Temple Meads station

Lily had never been to a large station and so was surprised at how busy it was.

A 25 minute stroll later and we had reached ‘The Galleries‘ just a small part of the Bristol shopping quarter. We wandered around for a bit and gradually more and more shops were looked in!

the galleries shopping centre, Bristol
The Galleries

I had arranged for us to meet my son (who lives in Bristol) for lunch.We went to Nandos in Cabot Circus

(a first for Lily and only the second time for me!).

Cabot Circus Bristol
Cabot Circus
Cabot Circus Shopping Centre

 

Nando's cabot circus bristol
Nando’s Cabot Circus Bristol

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael left us after lunch claiming he had a lot to do (I reckon shopping with a 13 year old girl might have had something to do with it!) and we explored Cabot Circus and headed for Primark. A young girls dream and a grumpy dwarfs nightmare.

primark bristol
Primark Bristol

By about 5:30 pm I was thinking about wandering gently back to Bristol Temple Meads but I wasn’t going to get away with it that easily, no, another shop beckoned and by the time we eventually got back to the station, we just had time to catch our breath and find the right platform before our train rolled in. A couple of hours later I delivered a tired but happy 13 year old back to her parents – job done!

The centre of Bristol  has loads of shops – and loads of places to relax and makes a lovely shopping experience.

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Exeter Food & Drink Festival 2019

So Exeter has a big food and drink festival– Who knew? Certainly not me, but I do remember not being able to walk through Northernhay Park last year so maybe if I’d paid more attention at the time, I would know!

So armed with a VIP ticket for the Sunday, (a birthday present!), I decided to hop on the train to Exeter. The festival is held next to the station so easy to get back after one or two drinks!

The festival has a live cookery theatre featuring local chefs (Michelin starred too!), with front row seating for VIP’s, loads of stands selling food or food related products, a number of bars, a VIP tent (more about this later!) and live music during the day.

In an attempt to prolong things past their 6:30pm deadline there is also a number of well known (not to me!) DJ’s from Radio1 making a noise in the evening. To listen to these purveyors of other peoples talent will cost you extra, but as it’s not my thing I didn’t bother.

First port of call was the VIP tent for a (free) coffee – you could go back all day for free coffee if you wanted. Included in the VIP ticket price is also 2 free drinks (large G&T’s for me!) and a cream tea. It also included a facial but I passed on that!

Darts Farm, the local (very large and very good) farm shop were housed in a number of joined up tepees and their master butchers were doing demos all day. They don’t just cater for meat eaters either, there were demos on vegetarian and vegan products too. They also had an area where young children and not so young children could make their own pizzas and sausages – brilliant.

The festival was on for 3 days over the early May bank holiday weekend and given the chance, I will go again next year.

BMAD (Bikers Make A Difference)

It started in 2002 with an idea by the founders of Bikers Make A Difference – BMAD, Kelvin and Jayne Halloran. That idea was to have a social gathering of bikers on Paignton Seafront in Devon and to raise valuable money for local charity. BMAD is now, probably, the biggest biker, music and beer festival in the South West of England. There are also regular Bike Nights running from the beginning of June until the end of September on Wednesday evenings from 6pm. 

Paignton Bike Night finally saw its birth in 2003 and has gone on to become the longest running largest regular social gathering of bikers in the South West of England. Each year on Paignton Seafront there are regularly  a mile of bikes parked side by side every Wednesday evening from the beginning of June to the end of Sept.

Due to the success of Paignton Bike Nights they now organise a Bike, Band & Beer Festival weekend called Paignton Bike Festival which is held on Paignton Seafront. The first Festival was in May 2005 and proved to be a total success not just for their charities but also for all concerned including the many sponsors and traders that attended.

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BMAD (Bikers Make A Difference) has been operating since 2003 to raise money to provide funding to sick, disabled and disadvantaged young people up to the age of 19 in the TQ area; and other charities that also provide services to the local TQ communities which directly or indirectly benefit young people.

Through the annual Bike, Beer and Music Festival and the weekly Bike Nights from May to September, they raise money for their chosen charities and individuals in the TQ Area.  They’ve become a tourist attraction for Torbay which supports the local businesses such as bed & breakfasts, hotels, campsites, food outlets and other local amenities.

The BMAD festival runs from Friday to Sunday on early May bank holiday weekend.

 

More information on BMAD here

National Rail museum, York

Tuesday 9th March 2019

I had from about 10:00 am until 3:00pm to spend at the gorgeous National Rail Museum in York. It took me about 20 minutes to walk there from where the coach parked, so, camera in hand, off I went.

The last time I visited the museum was in 1982 so I was expecting one or two changes! It was much bigger than I remembered with a huge amount of locomotives, carriages and memorabilia to see.

It’s free to enter but well worth popping a note or two in their collection boxes!

The first thing I saw were the royal carriages

I wanted to see the Eurostar, Bullet train, Mallard and the Flying Scotsman in particular and I soon realised I would have to prioritise things to be sure of seeing everything.

How lucky was I? The Flying Scotsman was having a service. Fortunately there is a viewing platform so you can see pretty much everything

By this time, I was thinking Coffee and a snack and so I sat down in the open cafe and tucked into a home made sausage roll and a nice coffee.

There was so much more to see and so I will put some more pictures below….

If you ever get the chance to visit this lovely place, you should! Highly recommended!

 

Brexit

So, here we are, a couple or three months away from the ‘Brexit’  (I so hate that word!) deadline.

What do we know for sure?

  • We were lied to on a grand scale

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  • The far right of the Conservative party are desperate for us to leave without a deal ( what the newspapers are calling a ‘hard brexit’).

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  • The Labour leadership have been less than dynamic over the whole thing.
  • The UK is split more than ever
  • Theresa May has proved to be a ‘uniter’ – Pretty much everyone is united in their dislike of her!

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  • Only 70% of the electorate voted in the referendum
  • Of the 43,000,000 entitled to vote, just 17,410,742 voted to leave (40%)
  • 25,589,258 people did not vote to leave the EU.
  • The consistency for a ‘peoples vote’ – or in other words, a second referendum has been with the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats.

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Given the importance of this issue to the UK in general, would it be right to have another vote?

A trip to… Camden Market

When I visited London Zoo a while back, the waterbus went to Camden Market and also Little Venice. I caught the Little Venice one but decided that when I had more time, I would come back and visit Camden Market.

So, yet another great deal on GWR from South Devon to Paddington (£30 return, what’s not to like!) and a good deal on a Premier Inn at Euston I set off.

When I got to Paddington, I caught the tube to Euston and then on to Camden Town. When I got to Camden Town, I noticed a sign that said that I couldn’t catch a return tube to Euston on a Sunday due to the volume of people wanting to leave Camden Market. There was a clue if ever I saw one! When you come out of Camden Town Station, you need to head for Camden Lock which meant a right turn from the station. A short stroll later and the market came into view.

 

As it was a very hot day and also a Sunday, there were huge crowds at the market (which is massive). I wasn’t too worried as I knew I would be back the following day. I spent ages watching an impromptu magic show from a stall holder who was selling the tricks and made a mental note to return the following day – I had already agreed to do a magic show for my grandchildren at Christmas and I needed some new tricks!

I spent the rest of the afternoon at the market and then wandered up to Chalk Farm station past the famous Roundhouse which has seen performances from pretty much all the major bands of the 70’s, the train back to Euston was quick and I walked over to the hotel just a couple of minutes from the station. Now I have to say, I do like Premier Inns, the staff are always friendly and helpful, the rooms are, in my experience always clean and the food is usually ok.

This time was no different and I had booked a ‘meal deal’ which  gave me a two course evening meal, a drink and breakfast all for less than £25, which for central London is a bargain.

After a huge breakfast (well it is help yourself!), I staggered walked to Euston station and caught the tube back to Camden Town.

As my train didn’t leave until after 7:00pm I was able to spend all day at the market. I had a good look at the various food offerings – Mexican, American, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Hungarian, Italian and loads more, the clothing and the jewellery and then went back to the magic stall for my own private magic show. I did buy quite a few tricks for my Christmas magic show and I had a few months to learn how to do them. I had a truly magical time at the market and then headed for something to eat (well you have to keep your strength up don’t you!). I chose to sit in a Mexican eatery and I’m glad I did, the food was spectacular!

Time for another stroll around the market and then I made my way to the waterbus and back to Little Venice. Time for a light meal at Paddington station along with a glass or two of vino and then on to the train and back home just before midnight. Would I go to Camden Market again? You bet!

Weston-super-mare

A trip to…Weston-Super-Mare

I got another good deal on the train to I looked around online for a hotel. After about an hour without success, I was beginning to wonder if I would find one. Eventually I got the last available room at the Royal hotel – ok but expensive!

How come it was so busy? I know it was peak season but there are usually more vacancies than that!

I found out why when I arrived at W.S.M. – The annual air show coincided with my trip. Now I’m not usually a lover of things that get hordes of people in a smallish space at once and I had avoided the air show in Torbay by going to Bournemouth (more about that in the future).

It was very hot but I thought I would watch bits of it from the pier.

Of course, 1000’s of others had the same idea and it was packed. These shots were taken earlier in the morning before the crowds arrived! I can’t tell you how welcome this pint of cider was later on…

 

Given the state this country is in and the problem town centres are having all over the country, Weston is clean, not a huge amount of empty shops and there didn’t seem to be too many beggars on the streets.

Every place I went into, I was welcomed with a smile and given how busy they all were it did make me feel good.

I managed to choose the hotel (I didn’t get much choice!) that the Red Arrows support guys were staying in so there was quite a lot going on.

 

Day 2 was very similar to day one – but even busier. By lunchtime, it was heaving and so I headed for the back streets and lo and behold a restaurant that was quiet. I did worry that there was a reason for this, but no, friendly staff and a nice roast dinner – made my day! Eventually I headed back to the sea front just in time to catch the Red Arrows. Then, back to the station for my train home!