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I’M BACK! Bristol is my.. uh.. maybe not oyster. Shall we say fishcake? No.. too controversial. Lets go with fish finger (the budget kind that I shall be munching on all too often from now on).
I arrived at my lovely 2nd year home at around 7.30pm on Saturday night, and have since passed through quite a number of thoughts, feelings and chocolate digestives. The first order of business upon arrival was a much awaited reunion with housemates, before settling in with an episode of Friends and a microwaved meal (it took all the energy I could muster). I know, the glamour..
Day 1 was spent unpacking the hoards of things I have somehow accumulated over the past year, and trying to get my new room into some semblance of order. I’m actually really happy with how it’s turned out.. especially this little gem that I picked up from The Design Studio on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield.
However, the first morning in the house was also witness to an incident. Ten seconds into my first shower, and the curtain and rail fell on top of me, leaving me forcing their weight up with one hand and using the other to frantically attempt to switch off the water gushing onto me. There’s always one, isn’t there?
We treated ourselves to a brunch at Boston Tea Party yesterday morning, which is conveniently (maybe dangerously) close to our new house, and its funny how quickly things seem to have gone back to normal. I feel like every time I leave one city for the other I have to readjust slightly, but this is always going to be easier when accompanied with fruit smoothies and friends, right?
It’s weird being back- a mixture of heartbreak at having to leave my beloved Sheffield girls (and parents, I’m not ashamed to say) and yet excitement for the year to come.
I don’t think it’s ever going to be easy leaving Sheffield. I may have a year of uni and living away from home under my belt, but I’m still sat here listening to Fifteen by Taylor Swift wondering when I’m going to start feeling like a grown up. However, the pain is numbed somewhat by the likelihood of many more berry smoothies and the promise of visits soon from friends and family. Any suggestions for where to take them? Please leave me ideas in the comments!
I’m not, nor have I ever been, a sporty person. In fact, I basically repel gym equipment. One fateful day in a Y9 PE class, we were instructed to dribble a basketball to the end of a line, throw it at a wall, catch it on its return, and dribble it back for the next person. Simple, right? I got the dribbling down, but after throwing it a tad too hard at the wall, it bounced back, hit me full in the face, and I fell to the floor in front of an entire class. It’s taken me a good few years to laugh about it, but that should tell you all you need to know about my athleticism.
So.. when I walked towards the glittery Bristol Jets stand at Freshers Fair last September, I found myself wishing that I could- just for once –not make an idiot out of myself and instead be one of those girls that make looking glamorous whilst doing sport look easy.
I bottled, skipped quickly past the stand… and then thought ‘why not?’. Why not give it a go? What had I got to lose? I walked back, the pom poms acting like magnets, and approached one of the smiley (but still fiercely intimidating to a fresher) older girls waving flyers. She insisted that the club was all inclusive and that no experience was needed, so I put my name down and took a cute postcard detailing the time and place of tryouts.
After getting home to discover that my new flatmate (now one of my best friends) had also signed up for tryouts, fear turned to excitement.. which turned back to fear in no time at all after actually arriving at the gym the following Wednesday afternoon. So many girls in fancy sportswear looking like they had just walked off a Nike ad campaign and I freaked. After being given numbers, and instructions on what the tests would be, we got started working our way round stations practicing dance, basic stunts and gymnastics (shudder). Without Sophie there, assuring me it would all be okay and I would survive this, I would have bolted within the first few minutes. But it was something I wanted to do.. and she happens to be ridiculously calm in stressful situations.
Just to give you some idea of the potential embarrassment I had brought upon myself, I can’t do a handstand. Or a cartwheel. I can just about manage a forward roll. Yeah, I questioned what I was doing there too. But the girls were lovely and not one negative comment was made.
I’d been told that Jets were all-inclusive.. but I had assumed this was just a line and that I would soon get an email saying ‘sorry, but you have been unsuccessful’. Instead, I was placed in Gameday- the non competitive team who attend uni games and put on a Varsity routine. This was taken at the first (basketball) game we cheered for..
Since then, I’ve spent Sundays waving poms supporting American football, and evenings practising stunts with girls who became some of my closest friends at uni. I went to Croatia for four days of dancing at Easter, and did three varsity performances without falling over once. I’ve learnt new skills, done heaps more exercise than ever before and met some of the sassiest and loveliest girls you can imagine.
It might sound cheesy, but joining cheer has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If you’re starting uni this September, my main piece of advice would be to just try things. If you think you’ll fail or people will laugh, do it anyway. How they managed to keep a straight face when I attempted a cartwheel before collapsing in a heap at tryouts I’ll never know, but the bitchy cheerleader stereotype was well and truly proven wrong.
As always, don’t let what people might say stop you from doing what you want, because 9 times out of 10 they’ll be much kinder than you think, and the other 1? They’re not worth worrying over.
‘Don’t let the fear of what could happen make nothing happen
Uni is great. But being in a city half way across the country does come with its drawbacks, a major one being the distance between you and your friends from home. Since my girl group are especially close, this has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with over this first year in Bristol. So, making the most of being back in the same city once again, last week five of us decided to have a very much needed catch up at Fear X Loathing- a burger-and-beer-and-cocktails-and-everything-you-need-in-your-life joint on West Street.
I found out about F X L recently via Instagram, and after seeing pictures of their food it wasn’t exactly difficult to persuade everyone this was somewhere we needed to try.
After much deliberation, oo-ing and aa-ing, I had the juicy chilli jam chicken burger (try saying that aloud without tripping!) with chips and a side of halloumi bites. I’ll admit that (as usual) I was slightly optimistic about just how much food I could eat in one sitting, so a little help was needed with the bites which were far too good to go to waste.
Despite having probably already eaten too much, two of us hadn’t learnt our lesson and decided to order chocolate ‘freakshakes’ using the justification that it was only the same as having dessert. Turns out, it’s not.
They are ENORMOUS. You know how usually when you go out for food and something is declared as being ridiculously huge, in the back of your mind you’re thinking ‘yeah right, bet I can finish that easily’? Not this. The shake itself was gorgeous, but, served with about two tonnes of cream, toasted marshmallows, an oreo and a chocolate mini roll, I was defeated. I 100% recommend this, but maybe on an empty stomach…
After posting a photo of my delicious Tuesday night on IG, a friend, who had just got back from travelling and who I was desperate to see, messaged me saying she wanted to try it too, so I ended up going twice in the same week. (It’s that good).
The great thing about F X L is that you can go for a full on meal, or just pop by for drinks and a side at lunch. I wasn’t quite as greedy second time round, and just went for a regular sized raspberry ripple milkshake which was cute enough to belong in a ’50s diner. (Yes, I got a milkshake while Heather got a beer.. I know I’m a child)
For the second round we splashed out and went for cocktails- a pornstar martini and a rumberklaart, which were excellently presented and tasted just as good as they looked. The pornstar martini comes along with a shot of prosecco, as though it’s not tempting enough already.
I’m painfully aware of how gushy I sound, but I only have good things to say about this place. Chilled atmosphere, good music, the friendliest serving staff, top burgers and gorgeous cocktails. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this one.
I have to apologise for the inexcusable infrequency of my posts recently! After 19 years of living in the bubble of education, I am currently half way through a 6 week summer job – a real one! Working 9-5 after becoming accustomed to morning lectures followed by a nap is proving to be exhausting (I know), but I’m getting better at the whole early mornings thing and honestly enjoying it so much.
BUT.. throughout the past few weeks of 7am alarms and pencil skirts, there has been a distinct lack of grooviness, which was thankfully corrected by this weekend’s Tramlines extravaganza. Having booked Friday off work and made it clear with friends that we intended to wear as much glitter as is possible without actually becoming disco balls, I was so ready.
Let me just take this chance to say Sheffield is i n c r e d i b l e. Weekends like this one make me appreciate it so much- not only is it one of the greenest places known to man, but it’s also one of the friendliest. The atmosphere for the past four days has been amazing and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many people so happy.
A funky disco set from Mr Scruff in Leadmill kicked off the weekend.. I think this photo just about sums up how happy I was at the prospect of seemingly unlimited gin and glitter-
The highlight of Friday was an unexpected one. Those of you who know me know that I’m not exactly the biggest rap fan, but I can say in all honesty that I’ve had Dizzee Rascal on repeat ever since his set at Ponderosa. Fix Up, Look Sharp and Bonkers especially had so much energy, and I have well and truly been converted. My favourite photo of the weekend is without a doubt this one of Frankee, proving that she was born to sit on someone’s shoulders and look incredible in the midst of a bouncing crowd.
Following a night of boogying to Soul Jam at The Harley, we headed back into town on Saturday for a walk through the beautiful Western Park. Jazz was blasting out from the bandstand speakers, including a 1930s remake of Stacey’s Mom which was impossible not to smile to, and the weather was about as kind as it gets in the usually drizzly North. There’s a link here to who I’ve now discovered are ‘Postmodern Jukebox’ if some jazzy clarinet mixed with Fountains of Wayne is what you’re missing right now (of course it is, who are you kidding?).
Saturday also provided the always-welcome opportunity to relive the Noughties through seeing the fabulous Kelis. Despite warning that she had a cold, she really didn’t disappoint in either vocals or atmosphere and inevitable screams to classics like Milkshake and Millionaire ensued.
I know quite a few people have complained about prices this year, but for three days and four nights of non-stop, whatever you fancy music in too many locations to list, I really don’t think you could get better value for money. I’ve literally only scratched the surface with this post, and even if you don’t know many or any of the artists playing, it’s worth it just to go into town and drift from venue to venue listening to some of the amazing local music. Just make sure you’re open to anything, ready to have a good time, and of course rock some sparkle..
Last night I was lucky enough to attend the wonderful ‘Bloggers Cocktail Evening’ at Sheffield Forum on Division Street. They are currently in the process of launching a new drinks menu and so had a group of us along to sample a selection of cocktails and learn how to make them at home too! (This could be dangerous come September when I’m back in student territory…)
Upon arrival we were each given a glass of Gin and elderflower fizz. Served in champagne flutes with a cute decoration consisting of a tiny wooden peg and sprig of rosemary, this is an alternative to the usual bubbly. It’s an (aptly named) fizzy mix of gin, elderflower liqueur, apple juice and Prosecco which would be perfect for special occasions. Forum host ‘Fizz Fridays’, where their selection of four different sparkling drinks are all two for one if you fancy giving this one a try with a friend!
The new menu is coming into play as the team at Forum begin to focus on quality over quantity, reducing the number of drinks on the menu but ensuring that those served are perfect every time.
Throughout the evening we were on constant rotation between creating cocktails and drinking them, never left without a drink in our hand. The first cocktail we were taught to make is also the first on the menu- the Polish espresso martini. This is an alternative take on the classic, with the additions of mint and honey vodka which create a sweet taste to counter the sharpness of the coffee.
Forum have their own brewery next door to the bar in which they brew their own beer, as well as creating gin which is not only used in their cocktails but is available in miniature gift sets alongside Fentimans tonic (these would be perfect for any G&T-lover birthdays you have coming up!).
In the brewery
Gin gift set
Following the tour of the brewery, our next cocktail demo was for the Candy martini. I’m a bit of a sucker for anything pink and sweet, so I could tell from the name and description that this would be a favourite. Made from equal measures of Liquor 43 and pineapple juice, along with a handful of raspberries, this is definitely one that I will have to try again.
For our final drink of the night, we made ‘Lemon Cheesecake’.. by this point I was wishing I had eaten a lemon cheesecake before coming as I’d had insufficient food and the alcohol was starting to hit! This one was (surprisingly for me) even better than the Candy martini- silky smooth and tasting exactly like the dessert but without the eaten-too-much regret that often goes alongside it. This would be a perfect alternative to finish a meal- a mix of Limoncello, Amaretto, Absolut vodka, cream and lemon juice all finished off with a sprinkle of crushed biscuit.
Thank you so much to The Forum for having me.. it was a great evening and I’d 100% recommend booking one of their cocktail masterclasses (£20/pp) for the next time you want a night out with the added bonus of becoming a (semi) cocktail pro!
This weekend was my flat-mate’s first proper visit to Sheffield, and so, after a night of partying it up on Saturday, we decided to give her a sample of the best bits of the city yesterday before she returned home to the South.
The day was spent wandering along Ecclesall Road, browsing in Yorkshire themed shops (translating the unfathomable-to-a-Southerner language.. ‘tha’ knows’ may as well have been Mandarin) and relaxing in the Botanical gardens. Before all this though, we went for a lovely late lunch at Craft and dough- an artisan pizza restaurant who also serve a variety of brunch dishes if that’s what you fancy. (We didn’t arrive in time for brunch but if you’re desperate for pancakes they also serve those as a dessert so its never too late!)
We had cranberry and lemon mocktails to start, which were delicious, and then later on I gave the lavender lemonade a try. The lavender is very strong in this so I wouldn’t recommend if you only like the taste when subtle, but since I love lavender (especially in scones!) this wasn’t really an issue for me.
I went for the Piggy smalls pizza, which was covered with smoky bacon, a huge amount of pulled pork, mozzarella, and frazzles. Yes, you read that correctly.. frazzles. The pork is so tender that it falls apart in your mouth, and I think it was the first time that I’ve been so full that I haven’t managed to finish a pizza, which says a lot for their portion sizes.
We ordered some beer battered courgette fries as a side, which were nice but a little too thick for me. The batter was lovely- thin and crispy, and they came with a great spicy chilli dip that gave them a lot more flavour.
The atmosphere was brilliant- it’s got quite a homey feel to it, great background music, and our waitress was so friendly. The prices were really reasonable- £3.50 for the non-alcoholic cocktails and most of the pizzas are less than £10.
Craft and dough have three restaurants in Sheffield- one located in Kelham Island and the other two on Ecclesall Road and Campo Lane. They specialise in craft beers, and have a great cocktail menu if you’re just popping out for some drinks. It was my first time visiting here since it was Fancie cupcakery, and I definitely plan on going back. I struggled finishing my pizza, so desserts were sadly not an option.. but on my next visit I plan to save enough room to manage the nutella doughballs which sound gorgeous.
Check out their website/menus here or visit their Instagram page- well worth a visit (or two!)