Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Why You Should Visit Wales And What I Would Miss If I Left

I've lived in Wales all my life and it's a beautiful yet underrated country. It has amazing beaches, so much interesting history and is featured in a number of films and TV series from The Dark Knight Rises to Dr Who, Da Vinci Demons to Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.

When I was asked to write a post about what I would miss if I left Wales here was my response.

The beaches


Tenby 

Wales has the most amazing beaches in the whole wide world, with miles of golden sand, interesting rock pools to explore and beautiful seas to surf, it's a beach lovers paradise. 

Over 44 beaches in Wales also have the Blue Flag award for safety, cleanliness and amenities.  My favourites are the beaches in Tenby, Rest Bay in Porthcawl my hometown and Barafundle Bay in West Wales which was voted one of the best beaches in the World by Passport Magazine.

The waterfalls
Sgwd Gwladys waterfall

There is something ethereal about waterfalls, and Wales has an abundance of these. My favourites are in the area of the Brecon Beacons, known as the 'Waterfall Country' and included Henryhd Falls. Henryhd Falls is a stunning waterfall but did you know its claim to fame? It's the Bat Cave from The Dark Knight Rises!

The castles
Carew castle

Wales has more castles than any other country in Europe, over 640. From the impressive Cardiff Castle to the romantic Castle Coch wherever you go in Wales you are never far from a castle and the amazing history that goes with it.

We have visited Carew Castle and Cardiff Castle in the last year and whilst both are different they are both equally worth exploring.

The museums

Techniquest

Wales has an abundance of museums. Techniquest in Cardiff is an excellent hands-on science museum for children whilst the National Roman Legion museum in Caerleon has an impressively intact amphitheatre.

Every school child in Wales visits St Fagan's the museum of Welsh life, and it's an interesting day out. Also and this is important, many museums are free in Wales, so you have no excuse not to explore!

The capital city


The Norweigan Church 

Cardiff, the capital city of Wales is a brilliant city, not too big, not too small, it's almost like a large town. It has fabulous shopping in St David's 2 with all the big brands as well as independent shopping in the Victorian arcades which has the best deli called Wally's and a fab home store called Rossiter's. There are so many things to do in Cardiff you will never get bored. 

Also don't forget to check out Cardiff Bay and all it's attractions too like the Millenium Centre, the Norweigan Church and The Dr Who Exhibition.


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The people

So these are my reasons why you should visit Wales but I have missed out the most important one. The people. Wales has the most friendly people who love a cwtch (hug) and will call you butt (mate) and I would miss the people of Wales dearly if I left.

This post is in collaboration with Flogas and the I Would Miss campaign #IWouldMiss. This campaign looks at what you would miss if you went off grid, and headed off into the wild for a new adventure. 


Tell me, have you ever been to Wales? What's your favourite Welsh attraction?

* PR collaboration 
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Monday, 27 March 2017

Put Some Love Back Into Your Home

It’s easy to let your home take second priority when you have other things to worry about – like kids, career, family and friends, but there’s much to be said about turning your home back into your haven by giving it some much-needed love and attention.Take a look at these simple steps that could make a big difference to your home.

Add value by adding space


A dilemma faced by many homeowners is the fact that they may love the area they live in and love their home but may be stuck for space.  Instead of moving out why not think about adding more space?

There are many ways that you can add space to your home including loft and basement conversions, adding a conservatory or even building an extension. In the majority of cases too, if you create extra space you will potentially increase the overall value of your home.

Phil Spencer's top 20 ways of increasing the value of your home includes concentrating on improving your kitchen to add an extra 4 % to your house value.  Recently we have had a new kitchen and the way it is now arranged has given us extra space, with more cupboards and less clutter. We had the sink moved and used reliable plumbers and fitters to make the process smoother.

Rearrange



Making small changes such as rearranging the furniture layout can make all the difference – open up a badly used space and create a better flow throughout to make the most of the room.

Take a step back and consider the layout of your room and highlight what space you can make the most of.  Start by placing the largest pieces of furniture first as this will help make best use of the space and aim to fit smaller pieces and accessories around it.

Take this opportunity to get rid of any items you don’t need and that aren’t adding to the room visually. Give away old furniture to charity shops or sell it at a car boot sale and use the money to buy something more fitting for the room. You might even find that a particular item would be better suited for another room in your home.

Enhance its features



If there’s something in your home that you’ve always loved but is surrounded by clutter or hidden behind furniture, consider making changes and turning it into a main focal point in your room and let everything else revolve around it.

Your focal piece could be anything from your favourite piece of artwork, to statement lighting to a vintage fireplace or a wall mural; the key is to find something that stands out. Use your focal point to start creating the story for the rest of the room and choose furniture, colours, and accessories that will complement it to create a coherent theme throughout.

* PR collaboration

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Sunday, 26 March 2017

How You Can Grow Your Garden In Six Months

Creating a beautiful garden takes no more than a sprinkling of know-how. It doesn’t mean spending hours labouring and weeding, pruning and lopping.

With the right design and mix of plants, Rattan Direct show how with minimal effort and time, your garden can blossom from an empty landscape into a bountiful landscape in six months or less.




The Seasons – Start in Spring

Winter is the time that the garden and most things in it naturally slumber. It is no fun trying to dig over frozen earth or cajoling frost-bitten plants back to life which is why any big changes to your garden should be left until the warmth of spring.

Even in spring, the garden is still at the mercy of the occasional night frost but you can start the ground work preparation until the danger of frost has passed.

Consider the Garden’s Aspect

Once spring has arrived, before you start digging and planting you must consider the aspect of the garden. This refers to the travel of the sun across the garden.

In other words, which parts of the garden are in full sun all day, which are partial shade and which are in complete shade? It is important to understand this as plants that enjoy full sun will not thrive in shady corners and vice versa.

Soil Type

It may seem too scientific for an amateur gardener but even if you are creating a minimal maintenance garden, you want it to look stunning as long as possible with minimal effort.

Know you have an idea of shady and, full sun and partial sun areas, you need to have an idea of the type of soil you have.

Is it acidic, lime, neutral, sandy, loam or clay soil? You can find this out by investing in an inexpensive soil testing kit, available online or from high-quality plant nurseries. Once you have an idea of your soil, you can look out for plants that will thrive in the soil.

Look out for plants that require specific soil types. It is a waste of time, money and effort if you plant an acid soil loving plant in a sandy, dry patch – it will wither and fail to thrive.

Existing Borders



If you have an existing border and intend on starting from scratch, you will need to empty the bed of all bulbs, shrubs and plants.

Again, this is a gardening job best done in spring, although you can also get a head start by clearing the border in autumn.

Once you have removed all the plants etc., dig over the soil to aerate it and add a high-quality fertiliser or, better still add well-rotted compost from your composting bins. This adds much-needed nutrients as well as encouraging gardening-friendly bugs and insects such as ladybirds and worms.

New Borders

If you are starting a new border from scratch, like other tasks, it pays to spend time and effort in preparation before you start the exciting task of adding plants.

This means adding a mix of top soil and compost, and/or fertiliser. It means ensuring that all weeds are removed as well as stones and other detritus that could prevent plants from establishing and flourishing.

TOP GARDENING HACK: on borders full of weeds, cover the ground with black plastic and leave for a week or two. This forces any remaining perennial weeds to grow looking for like. When you peel back the plastic, you will see the bleached stems of the weeds – simply dig up and remove.

Planting



Now you have prepared the border, you need to start designing the border for a lush, colourful display:

  • Year-Round Interest 

These are evergreen and deciduous shrubs that form the shape and character of a flowering border. Choose shrubs and trees that give all round colour, from lush green leaves in spring and summer, to colourful stems in autumn and winter.

TOP GARDENING HACK – use the height of plants as the backdrop of a border, then middle-sized plants the fill the centre and bedding plants for colour and interest around edging.
  • Summer-Time Colour 

Bulbs in spring are the first sign that warmer weather is arriving and is the opportune time to add colourful bedding plants. Many of these plants will keep on giving throughout the summer and into autumn providing you dead-head dead flowers. This means the plants puts energy into producing flowers and not seeds.

TOP GARDENING HACK: water your garden well, especially during dry spells thus catching rainwater for use in summer is a fantastic solution.

And finally, sit back and enjoy the colours, sounds and pleasant scents of the garden. 
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Rattan Direct supply a range of garden furniture and accessories. Order online or visit their showroom for fantastic offers.

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Friday, 24 March 2017

A Honeymoon In Ireland On a Motorbike

A guest post by Cath from Battle Mum. Cath is a mum, a biker and a scientist.

Travelling the West Coast of Ireland on a motorbike is probably not what you would call a traditional honeymoon but it was exactly what my hubby and I wanted. Keen bikers, him the rider and me the pillion, we decided it was right up our street as a honeymoon after our wedding in 2010. Don’t get me wrong, we still wanted the whole lie-on-a-beach-with-a-book type honeymoon but not straight after our wedding. We postponed that one.



My husband rode the bike over to Ireland a week before our wedding and I drove our car crammed with wedding things a few days later. Two days after our wedding we gave my sister-in-law the car to take to her house and off we set from Dublin destined for the West Coast of Ireland. Both of us are from Dublin and had holidayed in Galway and Mayo with our families as kids but had only briefly visited Mayo as a couple some years before. We had plotted out our route to ensure we took in as much of the West Coast of Ireland as we could in the 5 days we would be on the bike before returning to the UK.

First stop was going to be my father’s second house in Tuam, Galway via Achill Island in County Mayo. My husband had spent many a summer holiday near Achill Island with his family as a young boy and he brought me there on a day trip a few years before the wedding for the first time. So we knew our tour of the West Coast of Ireland had to start there.

Achill Island lies just off the coast of Mayo and is connected to the mainland via the Michael Davitt Bridge. A rugged island with mountains and peat bogs, the main reason we visited was to see Keem Bay, the beautiful sandy beach enclosed in a beautiful bay and the westernmost accessible part of the island.

Achill Island also forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a tourism trail that stretches from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal all the way to Kinsale in County Cork. We had ridden part of the Wild Atlantic Way on the bike in previous years from Mallaranny to Achill Island before and it was worth it but unfortunately, we didn’t have time on this visit as we had to get to Tuam before nightfall.

We had planned to stay in Tuam for two nights before heading for Killarney via the Cliffs of Moher so that we could visit Galway City and Salthill but my sister-in-law surprised us with an overnight stay and Medieval Banquet in Bunratty Castle so we only had one night in Tuam before starting our journey south.

As we headed south we detoured off the main road from Galway to Bunratty to visit the Cliffs of Moher and what a sight they were. Neither of us had ever visited the Cliffs of Moher before and we were both glad we made the trip. Although the weather was a bit cloudy I still got a few pictures of them as memories. 




The Cliffs of Moher are located in County Clare and also form part of the Wild Atlantic Way. They rise 120 meters above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head and reach a maximum height of 214 meters near O’Brien’s Tower, 8 kilometres north. They are one of the top tourist attractions in Ireland and it is easy to see why.

There is a visitors centre and walkway along the top of the Cliffs and stunning views out to the Atlantic Ocean. We will definitely be returning once our son is a bit older to appreciate them.

Two hours after arriving we were back on the road heading for Bunratty and an unexpected overnight stay in the Bunratty Castle Hotel. The hotel is situated across the road from the Castle and is a really nice hotel. There is a spa, a restaurant and lovely grounds. We didn’t eat in the restaurant as my sister-in-law treated us to the Medieval Banquet where, as we were the honeymooners, we acted as Lord and Lady of the Manor during the banquet.

It was an amazing experience and one I would highly recommend if you ever visit and stay at Bunratty. We sat in the Banquet hall of Bunratty Castle, were served a medieval style 4-course dinner, drank mead and enjoyed medieval music and songs. It was a delightful surprise for our honeymoon.




From Bunratty, our honeymoon took us south to Killarney and the Ring of Kerry. Ever since he passed his bike licence my husband has wanted to ride a bike around the Ring of Kerry. Another area of Ireland that was to be a first for us, the Ring of Kerry is an 110-mile circular route in County Kerry and is one of the most picturesque places in Ireland I’ve ever been.

We arrived at our hotel in Killarney, the Gleneagles Hotel, not to be mistaken with the golf one, and headed for the pool. It was a welcome break for sore bums I can tell you. At the time the hotel was looking a bit jaded but the pool was lovely and the food in the restaurant was tasty.

After a good night’s sleep, we set off after breakfast to take on the Ring of Kerry. We rode clockwise from Killarney to Dingle, taking in towns like Cahersiveen and Killorglin. During our day 1 ride, we stopped at the famous Ladies View which has stunning views across the Killarney Lakes. I had my husband driven mad asking him to stop here and there for photographs.



From Ladies View, we continued clockwise until we hit the coast and we’re met with some incredible scenery. Once again the light wasn’t brilliant for photographs on the coast but this didn’t stop me taking some. My only criticism of the Ring of Kerry is that the roads are very unforgiving as a passenger on a bike. The potholes were many and unavoidable.

Although Dingle is not part of the Ring of Kerry it is a town I have always wanted to visit so we decided to have lunch there before heading back to Killarney. It is a beautiful little fishing village that is a tourist destination in County Kerry and has a famous bottlenose dolphin called Fungie in its bay. It’s extremely picturesque and was definitely worth the detour. Plus, there’s nothing nicer than fish and chips by the sea.

Day 2 of our Ring of Kerry adventure saw us pass through the centre of the area which the Ring of Kerry surrounds so that we could ride through the Gap of Dunloe. This is a narrow mountain pass between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the Purple Mountain. It stretches for 6.8 miles and passes no less than 5 lakes, which are connected by the River Lee.



It is very narrow and winding so is difficult for larger vehicles. The most popular way of visiting it is via horse and cart but it was no problem for a motorbike. Again my breath was taken away by how stunning the scenery was. And to think it had been within arm’s reach for most of my life and this was the first time I was seeing it.

Once we’d passed through we headed back to Killarney via Muckross Lake, for yet more pictures, before changing and walking into town for a well-deserved drink and some food.

Killarney is a great town with plenty of pubs and cafes for food and drink. We even managed a small bit of shopping on our last afternoon. It’s a great town to use as a base for exploring the Ring of Kerry and places like Dingle too and will definitely be somewhere we return to on another holiday to tour Ireland.

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Our last stop on our honeymoon tour of Ireland was my sister-in-law's house for a day’s rest before driving the car home via the ferry. We had an absolutely brilliant time during our bike tour of Ireland despite the sore bums from all the potholes and we got to see so many places we’d never visited before. We can’t wait to take our son back to let him discover hidden gems of Ireland when he’s older.

If you are ever considering visiting Ireland I urge you to forgo Dublin, my home town, and head West. You really will not be disappointed if you visit any of these places!


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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Rombouts One Cup Filter Coffee Review And Giveaway Ends 20/04

Making coffee has become a bit of an art these days. You take the best coffee seeds that have been nurtured by coffee farmers then selected and picked. These coffee cherries as they are called are selectively picked then dried, milled, roasted then ground. The process is called from seed to cup. 

Luckily Rombouts have done that all for you. Then packaged it in a one cup filter. I am sure you have heard of Rombouts. The family owned and run coffee company was founded in Belgium in 1896 and in 1958 they founded the One Cup Filter product

The magic of the One Cup Filter is that it is simple and easy to use with no coffee mess, as the coffee is contained in the sealed filter.


I was sent a selection of Rombouts One Cup Filters to review, and a prize of a selection of products to give away on my blog. Before I tell you how to enter let's have a look at the products.


The One Cup filters come in a packet of 10 with a lid. So simple to use, first you boil the water then you sit the filter on the cup. When the water has boiled you carefully pour the water onto the filter up to the level which will only take a few seconds. To keep the water hot you pop the lid on the filter and wait for it to drip. Less than 20 seconds later your coffee is made, all you have to do is add milk and sugar to taste and voila!

So I must admit I was a little dubious about the quality of the coffee. How could something so quick taste good? 

Original Filters
These filters are a medium strength filters which they say are suitable for any time of day. The coffee tasted well rounded, with no bitter aftertaste, which delighted me. I particularly hate getting bitter coffee when I go to a cafe.  It wasn't too strong for me, or too weak. It was as Goldilocks would say 'just right'. 

Italian Style Filters
These filters give a rich dark coffee with a full-bodied flavour. Perfect for after an evening meal these filters are for the real coffee connoisseurs, those that take their coffee seriously. Personally, I wouldn't drink these after 10 pm as they are a stronger coffee.

Columbian Filters
The Columbian filters are a medium roast filter. The coffee tastes rich, flavourful with a hint of sweetness. A coffee you can drink at any time and a coffee that I thought was particularly delicious. One up from the original filters in my opinion.

Decaf Filters
The Decaf filters are an interesting product. I was intrigued to see how they would taste. The coffee is a medium roast and comes with a blue filter. It didn't smell as rich and robust as the other coffee and wasn't as smooth but if you want a coffee before bedtime it was perfectly acceptable. I think it is a good idea to have these in the cupboard to indulge in your coffee fix if you want to reduce your caffeine intake. 

All these filters cost £2.69 for a pack of ten. Great value I think you will agree. They also come packaged in foil to keep fresh. 




Today on my blog you can win a selection of Rombouts products including some one cup filter coffees. Whilst you are here don't forget to check out the rest of the competitions I have running too. Good luck!

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

UK competitions at ThePrizeFinder 



Win a selection of Rombouts products

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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Why You Will Love Iceland

I've got a secret. I've fallen in love... with a country called Iceland. There are many places I have been that have not lived up to my expectations but Iceland exceeded them, let me tell you why.

The Waterfalls


Gullfoss

Iceland has many beautiful waterfalls all over the country. Gullfoss is one of the most beautiful and well known as it's on the Golden Circle route. A route that covers some of the most well-known waterfalls and geysers in the Thingvellir National park.

Another stunning waterfall is Seljalandsfoss in south Iceland not far from Vik. This waterfall is popular as you can walk behind it and see the majesty of the water and power of the water from a different angle. Just be sure to wear sturdy walking boots as it can be slippery underfoot and waterproof clothing as you will get wet.

The Volcanoes
Eyjafjallajökull 

Iceland has a number of active volcanoes, including mount Hekla who has erupted 18 times since 2000 and Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano which erupted in 2010 and caused havoc due to the ash cloud over Europe and flight cancellations. 

This gives Iceland it's unique and different landscape, after all, it is known as the land of fire and ice. You can even go inside Þríhnúkagígur volcano which has been dormant for 4000 years.

The Geysers
Strokkur Geyser

As Iceland is a volcanic island with active volcanoes with that comes the geysers. The word geyser comes from geysier which means 'to gush' and the original geyser, The Great Geyser is in Iceland. Unfortunately, it doesn't erupt very often but next to it is Strokkur Geyser that goes off every 5-8 minutes.

An easy 90-minute drive on the Golden Circle route, it really is a thing of joy to see these eruptions and realise the power of the earth.

The Black Sand Beaches

Vik

With volcanoes come black sand beaches. The black sand beaches around Vik in the south of Iceland are striking and memorable. The sand originated from the basalt lava that covers much of the area. One of the beaches here has basalt columns that look like a pyramid and is interesting to see.

To look out onto the black sand beach in Vik is a serene but surreal experience, just be careful as the waves are known to be unpredictable and particularly dangerous in this area.

The Glaciers


Myrdalsjokull 

Glaciers and ice caps cover over 11% of the land area of Iceland. This contributes to the economy as tourists flock to go on snowmobiles and go glacier hiking.  

Iceland is losing ice due to climate change and many of these glaciers will be gone before we know it. Myrdalsjokull, for example, the glacier above, will be gone in about 50 years. To see this huge but amazing glacier is awe inspiring.

The Geothermal Spas
The Blue Lagoon

Geothermal spas are an Icelandic tradition and many locals spend their days off or catch up with friends after work relaxing in the warm waters. The poster boy for Visit Iceland is the Blue Lagoon located on a lava field not far from Reykjavik and close to the airport. 

Whilst the Blue Lagoon is in a beautiful setting it is also expensive so do like the locals do and go for one of the other hot pools, and enjoy a more rustic but equally enjoyable experience at the fraction of the price.

The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights

The phenomenon known as the northern lights or Aurora Borealis can be seen in Iceland from October to March. This beautiful light display which can be made up of many colours including blue, green, and red are a result of electrically charged particles in the Earth's atmosphere. You do need favourable conditions to see the northern lights though, mainly darkness with little light pollutions and no cloud cover. 

To see the northern lights spectacular is so amazing that is it on many people's bucket list.

The Food
Apotek 

Iceland is known for its traditional unusual food think boiled and singed sheep's head, 'Black Death' schnapps and fermented shark but it also has amazing fish and seafood as well as excellent lamb. 

We went on a food tour which was an excellent way to orientate you to the city as well as giving you a taste of local Icelandic food.  We enjoyed seafood soup, Skyr - an Icelandic dessert similar to yoghurt as well as the famous Icelandic hot dog amongst other things. The dessert we ended the meal with at Apotek was outstanding. 

The Museums
Skogar folk museum

The culture and history of Iceland can be examined through one of their many museums. From the Settlement Centre in Borgarnes with a state of the art multimedia exhibits to the Whale museum, Aurora Borealis museum and the quirky Phallic museum there is a museum for every taste!

We liked Skogar museum near Vik. It was interesting to see the turf houses in the open-air museum as well as visit the folk museum and there is also a museum of transport.


The Street Art
Street art

If you are ending your Iceland trip in the capital Reykjavik or making this your base, be sure to check out the amazing street art. It really adds to this vibrant and colourful city. While you are here check out the fabulous restaurants and the buzzing bar culture for which Reykjavik is known.



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Tell me have you been to Iceland? Would you like to visit?

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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Top 5 Things To Do And See In Liverpool

Liverpool has plenty to see and do so it can be hard to know where to start! Allow me to recommend my favourite touristy hangouts. To see the very best that Liverpool has to offer, head to these five memorable Liverpool locations.

Albert Dock


Albert Dock 

The first place you should go when you get to Liverpool is Albert Dock. Here, you’ll find more than just a great view (although do be sure to budget in some time for snapping photos), and more than 5 million people visit each year.

Albert Dock features all sorts of interesting things to see, do and eat. Check out the International Slavery Museum, the Maritime Museum, and the Beatles Story before heading to dinner at Maritime Dining Room or Docklands Fish and Chips. If you tire of visiting everything, relax and soak up the atmosphere.

Liverpool One

Liverpool One

Liverpool One is a great shopping centre geared towards families, fashionistas and foodies. Instead of the museums, you’ll find the Lego Store, the Disney Store, and high-end shopping like Peter’s Lane. If you want to chill out, why not watch a film at the Odeon cinema or visit Chavasse Park next door and sit and watch the world go by.

When you need refreshments, you can treat yourself to food from all over the world at the restaurants at Liverpool 1. From Bills to Zizzi, Cote Brassiere to Yo Sushi most of the restaurant chains you know and love are here.

Chinatown

Chinatown Liverpool 

Did you know that the Liverpool Chinatown was Europe’s first Chinatown? Here, you’ll find everything that you love about Chinese culture: great food, interesting architecture, Asian festivals, and shopping. 

While this area of town serves as a tight-knit community for the many of Liverpool’s Chinese population, it is also a fun place to explore. Don't forget to take a photo of the Chinese Imperial Arch, one of Liverpool's most spectacular sites decorated with 200 Chinese dragons.

The Cavern Club


The Beatles statue at the Pier Head

The Cavern Club is an iconic landmark in Liverpool and one which you need to visit on a tour of the area. After all the Beatles used to perform here, way back in the 1960s and the Cavern Club is credited with launching the band's career. You can have your photo taken in the main room on the famous stage or listen and you can still listen to live music every night.

For more Beatles history be sure to take the Magical Mystery Tour on a tour bus, which visits different areas that have to do with the Beatles including their childhood homes, schools, colleges, familiar streets that ended up in their songs, and more.


The World Museum

The World Museum

The World Museum opened in 1853 and an entertaining and educational museum based on science, technology and history. There is a planetarium, aquarium and bug house and history boffins will love the dinosaur exhibition too.  Although the museum is particularly kid friendly there is plenty for everyone to do of all ages so a visit to this awesome museum is perfect for a family day out.


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For more Liverpool inspiration check out these articles on things to do in Liverpool with kidsand fun things to do in Liverpool and smart tips for Christmas shopping in Liverpool.

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Monday, 20 March 2017

The White Lion Bar Review At The Avon Gorge Hotel, Bristol

The White Lion bar in Bristol is in an enviable position overlooking the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Part of the Avon Gorge hotel, it has been recently refurbished after being bought by the Malmaison hotel group and recently I was invited to review the food.



My husband and I arrived on a Saturday afternoon to possibly the busiest bar I have ever seen in the daytime. There wasn't a free table anywhere and I was a little concerned about our reservation. I needn't have worried. We were greeted by an efficient waiter who found us a table, and who knew we were coming. A good sign!

We were given a menu and we sat and had a drink whilst discussing what we would have. The menu had a selection of pub classics like pizzas, burgers and ribs, but with a more upmarket feel. The ribs weren't any old ribs, they were Gloucester Old Spot ribs and the pizza choices included British artisan charcuterie pizza- so pub food with a side order of class.

Alex our assigned waiter then came over, introduced himself and took our order. He was very welcoming and although busy made an effort to chat to us, making us feel very welcome.

Mr W decided to have the tomato soup and one of the charcuterie pizzas and I decided to have the prawn cocktail and then the Normandy chicken.



Before our food came, we were given some tasty focaccia bread accompanied by olive oil, smoked butter and cashew nuts. The bread was delicious, with a smattering of salt and served with the olive oil and the smoked butter had a subtle smokey flavour and was an interesting choice. I didn't see the need for the chopped cashew nuts on the side but maybe that was just me. 


Then came our starters. The tomato soup tasted very fresh and light. I couldn't detect any cream in the soup so if you don't like anything heavy for lunch then this would be a great choice. The croutons added a fantastic crunch to the soup and the cheese and herbs were a little addition to add extra flavour when sprinkled on top.


The prawn cocktails was huge! Presented in a Kilner jar, a mix of prawns with avocado, lettuce and a Marie Rose sauce, it was a really lovely starter. The prawns were a mix of smaller and larger prawns and really juicy. The bread on the side was great to smother with the prawns mixture. Delicious.

After a brief interlude, our main courses arrived.



If I thought the prawn cocktail was large then I couldn't believe the size of the pizza, and neither could Mr W! This pizza was possibly the largest I have ever seen and that is no exaggeration. On the menu it does suggests you share but it could easily serve 4 people. Mr W was then cursing the fact that he had eaten the soup now!

The pizza base was relatively thin and the tomato sauce tasted authentic. The meat on the top was a selection of charcuterie meats, the type you would get in a deli, such as salami and other cured meats. I tried it too and we both thought that it was an excellent pizza.



My Normandy chicken was a dish of simple roast chicken, served with a tasty stuffing, roasted carrots and peas and a rich jus. I have to admit, though, it was different to what I expected. I thought it would be in an apple and cream sauce as Normandy chicken is usually in this style. The stuffing was yummy, a taste of pork and apple came through and the vegetables were good, not overcooked and with a buttery flavour. The jus was a very good gravy, really rich and slightly sweet.  

I ordered a side order of chips and although these were certainly tasty, I have to admit they weren't crispy at all, which was a tad disappointing. I think looking back I should have ordered the ribs for my main course, but that isn't a reflection on the quality of the dish.

After our mains,  we were both full to bursting so we declined desserts.  The black forest sundae did sound completely amazing though and other choices included apple pie and cream and triple chocolate fudge cake.




I hadn't visited The White Lion bar before but I loved the modern decor which had a nod to tradition. White tiles were the backdrop to the well-stocked bar and long wooden tables are perfect for groups of friends to chat and share food as well as smaller tables suitable for couples. Copper light fittings added a stylish touch.


After our meal we took a little walk outside to the terrace and were pleasantly surprised by the fantastic view.  I can see why this pub is a perfect venue when the weather is sunny as friends can congregate on the terrace with drinks and also have splendid views of Clifton Suspension Bridge.






I thought the food was well presented and the portions were large. The pizza was really very good and although priced at £16.95 it would have been perfect to share with a group of friends. The magic question is - would we go back? I would certainly visit again if I was in Bristol. Alex, the waiter was excellent and couldn't do enough for us, the food was much better than the averagebar food and with the breathtaking view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, it is certainly a place to go when you are in the area. Recommended.

The White Lion Bar
Avon Gorge Hotel
Sion Hill
Bristol
BS8 4LD
Tel 0117 403 0210
http://theavongorgehotel.com/white-lion-bar/our-bar/
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