“What a gert lush trip!” – a fabulous, snug week in Thornbury and Bristol, UK

I’ll answer your question first. Gert lush means something is really good in Bristolian – and now on to your second question…

We had an amazing week away thank you 🙂

Lockdown restrictions have been all over the place here in the UK so it’s hard to know what you can/can’t do, who you can/can’t see etc. and we were getting a little nervous because we were supposed to be away… in Edinburgh… in the last week of October. I know what you’re thinking, “Nah!” and you’re quite right. So Andreea and I moved our annual leave with work and booked off the first week of October instead and we are very glad we did! Though the weather was not entirely on our side to begin with.

Monday

It’s becoming somewhat of a theme that on our drive to anywhere in the UK we end up with SOME sort of extreme weather and this trip was no exception – beforehand we had intense heat and sunshine, this time… torrential rain. I mean the sort of rain that no matter how fast your windscreen wipers are going you still can’t seem to see more than about 6cm. Sadly we didn’t take any photos or a video because, y’know, we were a-fearing for our lives! But don’t worry – we live on to blog another day! Or 5, at that!

We made the long and perilous journey to Bristol and made it to Cabot Circus car park, which is a super easy place to find and which feels very safe and well maintained and it’s just across the little sky bridge to the shops – but we weren’t there for the shopping, we were starting our holiday off right and heading right for BrewDog for some pizza and beer for lunch – they do 2-4-1 on Veggie & Vegan Mains on Mondays and so it would have been rude of us not to indulge a little…

After a delightful and filling lunch (we had to take 1/2 of it away with us!) we headed out in search of sourdough Bread, because as you’ll know from our trip to Stamford or… our second trip to Stamford we just can’t get enough of the stuff! Luckily we found The Assembly Bakery and they sorted us out with our fix. Can highly recommend if you’re in the area!

Monday was pretty heavily reserved for chilling though so we couldn’t wait to get to where we staying, and with good cause! For the week we had found an Airbnb to the north of Bristol in Oldbury Naite: The Garden Room and let me tell you, it is gorgeous.

The photos won’t do it justice, but I promise you it was a wonderful little house to stay in, with everything you need from a fully stocked and kitted-out kitchen, to a wonderful welcoming shower room and of course it is both surrounded by beautiful, serene countryside and looked after by Heather, Deane and dog Pepe. We couldn’t have asked for more – from the moment we arrived they were super welcoming, thoughtful and interactive. We weren’t massive fans of the bed personally, but literally everything else was absolutely perfect.

and with a view like this from the outside:

We were very happy indeed. We even went for a little walk around the fields, but it was quite windy and there was a very large cloud heading our way – so dutifully, we retired for the evening with wine, soup and some card games and set about catching up on some much deserved rest!

Tuesday

Tuesday actually held out incredibly well – we started the day in the best sleepy fashion, with coffee in bed at around 9am (when we normally would have been working for at least an hour already); we had decided that Tuesday was going to be slow in general though. We’re always rushing about so we thought it was about time we took it easy. So after a very casual brunch, we watched a bunch of Flying The Nest videos on YouTube and then eventually meandered into Thornbury. Now, if you plan on coming to stay here, you will definitely need a car – there’s no two ways about it, but the roads are all very easy to navigate and Thornbury has a massive free car park right in the center, which is convenient!

We stopped at a lovely little place called Hawkes House Neighbourhood CafĂ© where they had an awesome array of drinks and vegan options – I thoroughly enjoyed my burger and chips (because I’m a person of simple pleasures!) and Andreea had the most scrumptious Buddha Bowl.

I can honestly say that the food was delicious, hot, and not at all same-y in any way – it felt like they really put a lot of thought and effort into everything about it and the service was sparkling; if Hawkes House was a cafĂ© near me I’d be there most days, no joke.

Afterwards we went on a little bit of a shopping trip for a little retail therapy, and we came across the most beautiful, wonderful little boutique shop with everything from Christmas ornaments to a coffee shop, and even artisan chocolates in the counter window. Yes, even Vegan ones!! The shop was called Papilio At Heritage and if you’re looking for something cute/sweet or just downright cool (art, chocolate, gifts, clothes, candles…) then it’s well worth the trip – we, of course, emerged with some of the Vegan chocolates:

Honestly the effort the shop attendant put into preparing and boxing them, you would have thought we were royalty!

We milled around and even bought some shopping from Aldi, as we had an evening of cooking at “home” the following evening, and not only did we find everything we wanted, we also found Andreea’s first Lebkuchen of the year! Aldi does some delicious dark chocolate lebkuchen hearts that are suitable for vegans and we were excited that we’re close enough to Christmas now to get them – though I don’t think the checkout person appreciated me telling them that “when I Christmas, I Christmas haaaaard“, might have been a bit much for mid-afternoon on a Tuesday…

We nipped back to the Garden House to wash up and change and then we headed back into Thornbury for an Indian takeaway, as we realized we hadn’t had one in a while and we ended up eating in at the relatively new Roobroo – it was… an experience. The building is pretty old and it felt a little chilly, we were the only customers for a while and after we’d ordered our food the music just sort of… stopped. So we sat in silence, whispering to one another so as not to disturb the hush.

“So Chris” I hear you ask, “It was pretty bad, right?” – on the contrary, we actually had a wonderful meal there. The food was fresh and tasty, the onion bhajis were out of this world, and where normally they’d come soft dripping in oil, these were fresh and crispy – and the chef even came out personally when he heard vegans were in attendance, to run us through all the dishes we could have. We could not fault the service or the food at all – it was fabulous, and a wonderful end to our Tuesday in Bristol!

Wednesday

Wednesday and Thursday were going to be our active days – the ones where we wanted to get out and see what Bristol had to offer! We split our activities (and food) across the two days – and for Wednesday we decided we would walk to see 2 of the main attractions in central Bristol, the SS Great Britain and the Clifton Suspension Bridge – so naturally we found a car park nearby, the Millennium Square Car Park (which was thoroughly difficult to find and navigate) and once we were in and parked, and had doubled back on ourselves to get Andreea’s coat, we were on our way! We stopped and grabbed some coffees for the journey, of course, and even came across a pirate ship for good measure!

The walk wasn’t too long, we literally just kept following the river round – it was super interesting, unfortunately we didn’t get TOO many pictures, as it was quite nice to be in the moment and walk in the rare sunshine we were getting hand in hand. But the river was fascinating and it was interesting to see the difference, with one side seemingly bustling away, and lush greenery on the other. Our ultimate goal though was to see Clifton Suspension Bridge, a marvel of engineering awesomeness, and it wasn’t long before we came to it:

But we needed a better view. It was a bit… far off. Unfortunately we had arrived at a place that can only be described as the “end of the path” where it turned into a very fast road and we couldn’t continue unless one of us could magically turn into a car. That being said, we carried on a little bit more and walked past the old abandoned cliffside railways and saw a path across the road that looked a little overgrown and disused. So we mustered all of our courage, waited for a gap, and went for it. I’m really glad we did because it put us squarely on the best named route in all of England: The Zig Zag Path.

We wandered up and up, and it took us a fair few minutes because it was so steep (unlucky for Andreea she was now in her thick coat so was not having the best time ever) but when we got to the top we were greeted with the most amazing views, both from the path, and the White Lion where we stopped in for some light refreshments!

From here it was a straight downhill venture to our lunch stop – and this one we were very excited for. Vegan F*sh and Chips. I really could not wait, I had been dying to try it since I heard it was a thing and it did. not. disappoint.

We ate at Catch22 and if you live anywhere even remotely NEAR Bristol, you have to get over there asap. Honestly, we had the Vish and Chips; Banana Blossom, marinated in Samphire, Seaweed and Lemon, to give a really “fishy” style flavor. It was unlike anything I’ve ever had before but I would DEFINITELY have it again.

Needless to say, we were stuffed, so we went for a bit of a walk around the MShed, took a look at some of the shops and rapidly concluded that what we needed was basically an afternoon nap. So after all the walking, sightseeing and eating we headed back to get the car (via a Vegan Gelato stop for Andreea) and made our way back to the Garden Room to rest our weary (full) bellies. Dinner (much later) was an unexciting shop bought gnocchi and sauce with some of our vegan parm and some games and wine – it was pure happiness, and we slept very very well.

Thursday

We were sad to begin our final day in Bristol, feeling like we had only just arrived (as all holidays end of course) but keen to make sure we made the most of the day! In total we did well over 22,000 steps so we did just that!

We had an early brunch of avocado on sourdough toast and then hopped in the car, once more pulling into Cabot Circus – the reason? It was mini golf time! Specifically, Jungle Rumble Golf which was conveniently located in Cabot Circus (it’s preeeeeeetty big!) – and fortunately because we were there early morning, during term time… uh… during a pandemic, we were basically the only ones there for ages! Of course Andreea won (kidding ;P ) but we had a lot of fun, and the courses were plenty challenging!

After building up an appetite we decided to walk the 30 minute walk to our lunch stop, which was directly up Cheltenham Road, which turned into Gloucester Road and we arrived at possibly the highlight of the week for us… Purezza. If you don’t know Purezza, they are a vegan pizza company who won the top prize at the World Pizza Championships and who pride themselves on incredible plant-based food.

They do not lie.

Andreea and I shared the garlic bread and the Parmigiana Party pizza, and if you go please get it – it is by far and away the best pizza we’ve ever had. Full stop. Do you want to know how much we loved it? We had reservations at another place for dinner… which we cancelled and then re-booked to go back to Purezza. That’s how much we loved it. A lot. It also inspired a little back and forth on Twitter with the maestros themselves:

Of course to deserve all that delicious vegan pizza goodness, we had to get our walk on and earn it. So we headed off up-hill to Brandon Hill for a spot of sitting and appreciating the lives we lead and how lucky we are to have one another…

…and a dog got away from it’s owner and was running around everywhere with the owner chasing after them, so that was pretty hilarious!

We had a lot of fun, enjoyed each other’s company a lot and wandered around for the best part of 3 hours before heading back to Purezza for more goodness. Once again though, full and happy, we headed home for the night, our last night in Bristol… and I finally beat Andreea at Qwirkle!

Friday (a.k.a sad home time)

Or is it? Well – here’s the interesting thing. We were supposed to be heading home on the Friday because we had “plans”, or so Andreea thought! We had actually just celebrated her being in the UK for 10 whole years, but she had no idea that a surprise was waiting for her instead! But that is yet to come in another post, another time!

For now though, stay snug, and if you visit Bristol, or nearby Thornbury, be aware a cornucopia of vegan foodie delights awaits!

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