Friday, 22 September 2017

Adventures in Travel Blogging: A Trip to Bristol, part two

As promised, it's time for part two of my super fancy "let's pretend I'm a serious travel blogger!!" trip to Bristol (you can read part one here).

On this wonderful treat of a trip I was a guest of Mercure Hotels UK and stayed at their lovely central Bristol hotel, the Mercure Bristol Grand.  

Day two got off to an excellent start with a buffet breakfast. I can never resist a cooked breakfast but I have had so many incredibly sad cooked breakfasts in hotels over the years (cold beans, rubbery eggs, unripe tomatoes, ugh, so depressing). This was, however, the total opposite of a sad breakfast... a happy breakfast, I guess? Whatever. I would pretty much recommend this hotel based on this breakfast alone, it was well lush.

I also had tea and orange juice and fresh fruit and a really scrummy little pastry... and felt a little bit like I might burst from too much breakfast, but in a good way.

After breakfast, I checked out of my room and met up with the other bloggers on the trip ready for our tour of the city. The tour was led by Dan and Nina from Bristol-based blog Lifestyle District who had the difficult task of picking just a few Bristol highlights to share with us.

Regular readers will know that I used to live in Bristol (about 15 years ago) and now live just down the coast, popping to the city as often as possible on my days off... but there are huge chunks of the city I've not been to in what feels like forever, so I was really looking forward to seeing where Dan and Nina would take us.   

We started at St Nicholas Market, just round the corner from the hotel. Even though we were all still full from breakfast, the gorgeous smells of the food stalls had our mouths watering!


Next we headed to Bristol's harbour...


... popping into M Shed (the museum of Bristol's history) to visit the viewing gallery on the top floor, where you get some fantastic views of the harbour, the city skyline and the harbourside cranes.


We passed Colston Hall where a special mural was being painted to celebrate the venue's 150th birthday. We all took photos of the graffiti artist, he took some photos of us in return, then we walked on up the road...

... down the famous Christmas Steps and on to the wonderfully decorated Nelson Street, where you'll find creative hub The Island based in a former police station. 

Street art is an essential part of any visit to Bristol, so for the final part of our tour we headed up into Stokes Croft...

... to see the obligatory Banksy (you can't come to Bristol and not see a Banksy, it's practically the law) and to pose for a group photo


Then it was time to return to the hotel for Afternoon Tea - and lots of Instagram-ing, of course!


There was so much delicious cake! Scones and sandwiches too, of course (scones and cucumber sandwiches are an essential part of a fancy Afternoon Tea) but oh my goodness, the cake was so good.

I'm sure it will not remotely surprise you to learn that I ate a LOT of cake. As the event began winding down and people started bidding their farewells, I decided I'd better leave asap before I ate even more cake (theoretically I don't really believe in the concept of "too much" cake, but there really is only so much sugar I can eat before I begin vibrating like an oversized hummingbird) and headed homewards.

Huge thanks to the team at the Grand for the invite and hospitality, and to the guys at Lifestyle District for the tour!

Disclosure: as mentioned above, I was a guest of Mercure Hotels UK and received a free night at Mercure Bristol Grand and free meals during my stay, but this is not a sponsored post - I'm sure there are some lucky bloggers who get paid to blog about staying in lovely hotels but I am (sadly) not one of them. (A girl can dream though, right???)

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Adventures in Travel Blogging: A Trip to Bristol, part one

I had a really special treat at the weekend: spending Friday night and Saturday at the gorgeous Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel with a whole bunch of bloggers.

This was quite an exciting invitation to pop into my inbox! I blog about my Nice Days Out and my holidays exploring the UK's cities (and their excellent museums) but I've never really thought of myself as a "proper" travel blogger... and I definitely haven't had any invitations before from hotel chains to come stay at one of their recently refurbished hotels and eat nice food and generally have a very fancy time for free.

There was a time in my life when impostor syndrome (and general anxiety about going on my own to hang out with total strangers) would have gripped me pretty hard and I would have emailed back with sad apologies, pretending to be busy that weekend or something. But (happily!) that time has passed, so I sent an email back which was only slightly more restrained than YES PLEASE OMG THAT SOUNDS AWESOME... and rocked up at the Grand on Friday afternoon, ready for some fun times.

Normally when I blog about my travels I don't tend to mention the hotels I stay in because, honestly, they are really not worth mentioning. I'm usually on a tight budget and stick to the absolute basics hotel-wise to save a bit of cash. It was a wonderful treat to stay at such a nice hotel, one where just sitting in your room or having a shower in the morning feels like a delicious luxury (let alone the possibility of a dip in the hotel pool).

I feel like I might have to stretch my budget a little for my future trips! I mean, how nice is this hotel room? I am particularly in love with that chair.

All serious travel bloggers take stupid selfies in hotel bathroom mirrors, right??

After taking a lot of ridiculous selfies (you think that one's daft, you should have seen the ones I deleted...) I made tea (of course, gotta have tea), tested out the bed (v comfy) and the biscuits (v tasty)...

... then headed downstairs to the bar to meet everyone for drinks and dinner.

The Grand has beehives (housing 40,000 bees) on its roof, which were the inspiration behind Keepers Kitchen & Bar (Keepers, geddit? Like beekeepers?). The restaurant's decor has a subtle bee theme, with hexagon motifs and pops of yellow, and their homegrown (harvested? whatever the right word is, please imagine I wrote it here like someone who knows about this stuff) honey pops up in a lot of the dishes on the menu.

After some introductions and lots of oohing over the fancy cocktails, we sat down for dinner. It was steak night and the steak proved a popular option...

... but as I'm vegetarian, I opted for a veggie pizza (yum).

There was much photographing of the food, of course, and lots of Instagram-ing during dinner - the great thing about hanging out with other bloggers is that no-one minds when you do this stuff cos they're doing it too!

We all even took our phones/cameras to the loos because it turned out they were really rather fancy and definitely photoworthy...

After dessert and a lot of nattering, I decided to call it a night and went back to my room to get a good night's sleep...

... aaaand I'll be blogging about what we got up to on Saturday on Friday. Now I come to type that out it sounds a bit confusing but basically, come back soon for part two :)

Disclosure: as mentioned above, I was a guest of Mercure Hotels UK and received a free night at Mercure Bristol Grand and free meals during my stay, but this is not a sponsored post - I wish I could get paid to blog about staying in lovely hotels but, alas, this is just an ordinary blog post about a very fun weekend!

Monday, 18 September 2017

A Floral Coffee Cosy for Mollie Makes

The September issue of Mollie Makes magazine is out now, and it includes a project by yours truly...


On page 93 you'll find my step-by-step tutorial for making this pretty cafetiere cosy, stitched from felt and fabric and embellished with some simple embroidery:

If you're not a coffee fan, you could use the flower and leaf templates to decorate lots of other things. I know autumn is rolling in pretty darn quickly at the moment, but florals are a joy whatever the season!

Click here to see more of the crafty, creative goodness in issue 84 of Mollie Makes. It's in UK shops now and available online here. The digital edition is available from Google Play or Apple Newsstand.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

It's Bargain O'Clock

I feel duty bound to tell you guys that my book, Super-Cute Felt, is currently available from the Book People at the ridiculously low, highly bargainous price of £4.99!

It's always strangely exciting seeing my books pop up in the Book People catalogue - like seeing them in bookshops and libraries, it makes it feel properly real seeing them surrounded by all those other books by all those other people instead of just being things that existed in my head and now sit on my bookshelf. Is that weird? It's probably weird.

ANYWAY: Click here to buy a bargain copy (or three!) of Super-Cute Felt while their stocks last.

Super-Cute Felt is of course also available from Amazon UK or Amazon USA, via your local bookshop, or direct from my publisher.

P.S. Those Amazon links are affiliate links, which means if you click on the links and buy something within that session I'll get a small percentage for the referral.