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13 Awesome Things You Can Do With Your Kids, In And Around Bristol

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baby rave bristol

13 things you may not have thought about doing with your kids, in and around Bristol.

There are loads of things you can do in the Bristol vicinity for family fun, so I’ve compiled these activities, missing out the ones everyone already knows about. Have a look through and comment if you can think of any other gems!

*Note: feeding your badly behaved child to the Bristol crocodile doesn’t count, and is considered to be deeply, deeply illegal.

1. Go to a rave.

baby rave

The next one is on 11th September at the Trinity Centre in Bristol. Run by Big Fish Little Fish Events, this promises craft mixed with dance music (like what I did there?) on a multi-sensory dancefloor with big tunes, glitter cannons, bubbles and even a giant parachute. There’s also a ‘baby chillout space’. I’m intrigued now – is this a safe haven for them to get milk drunk, spaced out and have deep and meaningful gurgle chats?

2. Go and watch the Lawn Mower Grand Prix in Somerset.

On the 27th to 29th August it’s the Mendip Mower Racing and Family Festival down in Cross, Somerset. Expect a classic car show, live music, beer, and of course LAWN MOWERS, yes you read that right, lawn mowers being raced around a track at breakneck speeds. [49 minutes away]

3. Go crabbing.

My source tells me that Portishead Marina is the place to go, but if you know other spots please comment on Facebook! It’s free, and there’s something oddly satisfying about watching a bucket full of crabs racing back towards water. [22 minutes away]

4. Take a tour of Redcliffe Caves.

Ghost hunting in Redcliffe Caves 👻

A post shared by Lara Light (@laraelight) on

 

Not many people know, but underneath Bristol is a network of red sandstone caves full of history and intrigue. They aren’t open to the public, unless you book a guided tour. You wouldn’t exactly want to take a toddler round them, but older kids would love it. It’s eerie wandering around them in the dark, but interesting! This is a great activity to do with friends, and the tour guide is entertaining! More details on the caves, and how to book can be found here.

5. Go to Puxton Park.

This place is MASSIVE and full of surprises. A giant sandpit full of diggers and tip trucks, farm animals everywhere, real boats, motorised tractors, a wooden fort, the list goes on. There’s something to suit all tastes here, and a selection of massive slides in the soft play barn. You haven’t lived until you’ve dropped down the vertical blue side with a toddler clinging to you, but take a clean pair of underwear.

When you walk around it, Puxton Park is the gift that keeps on giving, you could actually spend most of the day there. Plus, it has a farm shop, and loads of nice spots for a picnic. Read the Tripadvisor reviews here, it really has everything.  [30 minutes away]

6. Go on a steam train

At Bitton, you can take a steam train ride and even experience the glory days of the railway dining car by booking a three course menu on Sundays. The Avon Valley Railway is run by volunteers, they’ve restored a Victorian train station so you can have a look around that too. [29 minutes away]

7. Go to Brean Theme Park.

Did you know that the UK’s largest free admission theme park is within touching distance of Bristol? It’s an impressive site, with multiple rollercoasters including a surprisingly hairy caterpillar ride you can go on with the younger children. It’s also got plenty for big kids: hellraising rides, a log flume, fast go karts, and a ghost train. Pro tip: there’s a merry-go-round on two levels called ‘Fantasia’ that will keep the most vocal of toddlers quiet, I’ve never seen one like it.

On top of that, there’s a gigantic soft play space and brilliant swimming pool with flumes in the same complex. You’ll be astonished at how good it is, seriously! [58 minutes away]

Side note: if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also have a Wimpy there. I lived to tell this tale!

8. …Then spend the afternoon on the beach at Brean.

It’s easy to spend the whole day at Brean as there’s a beach that stretches for miles when the tide goes out, and looks stunning on a sunny day. You can also go on the beach and walk up on the cliffs at Brean Down, a National Trust site where you can find mountain goats, the remains of an iron age hill fort and more.

9. Go to Clip ‘n Climb in Bristol.

It’s a colourful theme park of climbing walls suitable for kids over four years old. Your overzealous offspring get harnessed up and can tire themselves out on the walls while you drink coffee in the on-site café wondering how your life turned out like this.

10. Take a day trip to Glastonbury Tor (and Clarks Village).

 

Rebalance your chakras in Glastonbury village, every parent needs it sometimes. Then walk up the Tor, have a picnic and admire the amazing views of the Somerset Levels. Or your child screaming and spoiling it for everyone. After that life affirming moment, Clarks Village in Street is 5 minutes up the road so why not embrace your inner capitalist pig and go get some affordable jumpers from Jaeger. God, when I analyse myself I sound like a right tit sometimes. The designer outlet village offers over 90 shops and bargains to be had.

11. Cycle the Strawberry Line.

The Strawberry Line in Somerset is an old train line that’s now a cycle track. It stretches all the way from Clevedon to Shepton Mallet and beyond. Here’s a pro tip if you can’t transport your bikes down: catch a train from Bristol to Yatton and then do the 10 mile cycle to Cheddar. You’ll pass through wetlands, where you might see otters. Then Thatchers’ cider orchards, an eerie train tunnel, the small medieval town of Axbridge and, finally, Cheddar Reservoir. If you’re in Cheddar you may as well go to the gorge too, one of the natural wonders of England!

If you catch all this on a sunny day you’re in for a treat but make sure you pack lights for the tunnel or your kids will probably be haunted for life. It’s a fun experience though – the Shute Shelve tunnel is a whopping 165m long. [34 minutes away]

12. Go to Lacock Abbey (this one’s for the Harry Potter fans).

Lacock Abbey is steeped in history, but the main reason I’ve included this is you can explore a grand old country house, and also the ruins of the Abbey. During springtime it’s great for chilling out with a picnic and watching the lambs milling about. Plus, if anyone’s a Harry Potter fan, kids will think they are running around Hogwarts because parts of The Chamber of Secrets were filmed there. National Trust members get in for free.[46 minutes away]

13. Visit Chepstow Castle.

I know, I know, enough of these places that aren’t in Bristol, but what kid doesn’t love being in a castle and firing arrows through the slits at imaginary attackers. It’s one of the best castles in the area unless you’re going further west in Wales. With the castle looming over it, Chepstow is a nice town to spend the afternoon in. The antique shops usually have some pretty cool furniture for sale. [34 minutes away]

This is by no means an exhaustive list so please comment on the Best of Bristol Facebook page with any other gems you can think of, and subscribe to Dad’s Diary if you enjoyed reading!

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Sampling The Lesser Known Ciders From Thatchers

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Thatchers Cider

Despite the recent rain, bbq season is upon us, and no camping trip or garden gathering is complete without a few ciders to sweeten the deal.

With honey notes and a golden colour, the medium-dry Thatchers Gold is the flagship cider from one of Somerset’s oldest cider makers – and it’s a great go-to cider on any occasion – but Thatchers Cider have been producing and pressing apples in the Somerset village of Sandford since 1905, and their selection these days is broad.

Thatchers Cider

Thatchers Katy, the 7.4% single variety cider well-known to Bristolians who want something a bit stronger than Gold or Dry..

An introduction to Thatchers Cider and Pasture

To showcase the full range of their cider offerings, the Thatchers Cider team descended on Pasture – the stylish new bar and restaurant near St Mary Redcliffe – last week.

With butcher Sam’s enthusiasm for local produce and Thatchers’ chief cider-maker Richard Johnson on hand, it was the perfect pairing.

Thatchers Cider

Thatchers Redstreak, a multi-award winning cider with accolades such as Supreme Champion at International Cider Challenge 2017, and World’s Best Sparkling Cider at the World Cider Awards 2017.

Richard introduced us to the Thatchers Cider story – starting over 100 years ago with farmer William Thatcher making cider to help pay his workers, and ending with William’s great grandson Martin (the current managing director) overseeing Thatchers Cider distribution throughout the UK. In between tastings, Pasture’s Sam talked us through the menu selections he’d made to bring out the best in the ciders chosen.

Thatchers Cider

Cured duck breast with juniper and orange marmalade, on a chai cracker.

Food and cider pairings

The Thatchers team opened with Katy, a light and softly sparkling cider made from Katy apples, and with it came Pasture’s scallop ceviche with pickled gooseberry and lime – the delicate seafood working beautifully with the light, bubbly cider. There followed five further mini-courses, each paired with a different Thatchers’ cider.

The meaty steak tartare with oyster mayonnaise met its match in Thatchers’ Old Rascal – a peppery 4.5% cider made with Tremlette and Somerset Redstreak apples for a bittersweet flavour. And Pasture’s short rib croquettes with delicate gochujang aioli balanced nicely with the bold and beautiful Thatchers’ Vintage – an oak-matured 7.4% cider with fruity aroma and crisp flavour. 

Thatchers Cider

Pasture’s Signature Short Rib Croquette with gouchong aoili and nasturtiums.

It was a great chance to try lesser-known Thatchers ciders you don’t regularly see in the big supermarkets, and clear to see the thought Sam had put into the food pairings he chose.

Thatchers Cider

Thatchers Family Reserve, a sparkling Somerset Apple Wine that rediscovers the recipe for champagne cider originally created by William Thatcher in the early 1900s.

If you’d like to give a few of Thatchers’ lesser-known ciders a try, take a look at the full range and buy online here. And for more details on the flame-grilled offerings over at Pasture, check out their website here.

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Bristol’s Biggest Food Festival Is Back

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Bristol Food Connections

Bristol Food Connections 2018 is nearly here, so it’s time to plan your festival!

Bristol Food Connections is one the highlights of Bristol’s food calendar, with a ridiculous amount of events (130 at the last count!) taking place across the city from 11-17th June.

It’s a fairly huge festival, covering everything from growing your own food to huge gala dinners and talks on sustainability. We’ve decided to break down what’s happening and pick out a few of our favourites from this year’s programme.

Bristol Food Connections

Booze it up

There are plenty of ways to hit the hard stuff (and find out more about it too)…

See more of Bristol

With events dotted in every far flung corner of Bristol, now is the time to get out and explore!

  • World Food Passport (All week, £8)
    Taste your way around the food businesses of Gloucester Road, collecting stamps as you go (or you can also do a guided food tour of Gloucester Road that week too).
  • Behind the Scenes of a Gin Distillery (Sat 16th, £25)
    Head out to Thornbury for this special tour of 6 O’clock Gin’s distillery to find out more about how their delectable spirit is made (with plenty of tasters along the way, obv).
  • Shroomshop (Sun 17th, £30)
    Get some hands-on tips about mushroom cultivation at this workshop in St Werbs.
  • Thyme Trail (Fri 15th, £15)
    Visit various vendors in Wapping Wharf, hearing the stories behind the businesses and getting tasters as you go.
  • TimeZone: Eat Your Way Around the World (Sat 16th, £4)
    Try a range of international cuisine in Easton, including Jamican, Indonesian and Spanish.
  • Eco day at Hartcliffe City Farm (Sun 17th, Free)
    Try your hand at pond dipping, searching for bugs and other activities.

Bristol Food Connections

Educate yourself

It’s not just about filling your face with food, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn a new skill or hear some interesting perspectives on the food we eat too:

Fantastical feasts

Some seriously special dinner events from well-known chefs and local producers…

  • FUTURE: FEAST (Mon 11th, £25)
    Star Trek meets Come Dine With Me in an ‘immersive dining experience’.
  • A Summer’s Feast (Fri 15th & Sat 16th, £30)
    The next generation of Bristol chefs serve up a seasonal feast.
  • It’s a Bristol Ting! (Sun 17th, Free)
    Celebrate Bristol’s Jamaican community with rum & jerk chicken at Lakota.
  • Chocolate Gala Dinner (Mon 11th, £35)
    A special dinner to kick-off festival week, with all 3 courses featuring chocolate.
  • Summer Dine & Vine Feast (Thu 14th, £30)
    A three-course tasting menu paired with bio-dynamic wines.
  • Homegrown Collective Supper Club (Fri 15th, £35)
    Three-courses of local, seasonal food accompanied by music.

 

There are also loads of free talks and demos at the Festival Hub (next to Watershed) throughout the week, so it’s worth stopping by to see what’s on!

 

See the full Bristol Food Connections Programme

 

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Hyde & Co’s Launch Impressive New Cocktail Menu

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A year has passed since Bristol’s finest cocktail bar last refreshed its menu, and it’s all change again at the secretive and stylish Hyde & Co.

2017’s The Last Carnival introduced us to a glamorous world of burlesque, cabaret and circus, showcasing a mastery of cocktail creativity. Midnight in Paris picks up the tale…

The scene is set in 1920’s Paris; a dangerous world of decadence and daring. A jewel heist in the French capital has caught the attention of private detective Kinsey Moran, who must follow a trail through the city’s drinking dens and backstreets to bring the culprits to justice.

From the imagination of talented local designer and bartender Gareth Aldridge, Midnight in Paris’ beautiful story and artwork sets Hyde & Co. apart from the outset – but it’s the variety and quality of the cocktails that tempt visitors to sample daring new concoctions.

With sultry jazz playing softly in the background and a décor embracing the elegance of the roaring 20’s, drinkers can now enjoy a new selection of the bold and innovative cocktails for which Hyde & Co. is known.

Traditional French spirits including Calvados, Cognac and Chartreuse blend beautifully with spice mix, bitters and liqueurs, creating bold new flavours with a nod to classics like the French 75, Sidecar and Kir Royale.

If you’re looking for a recommendation, the gin-based Tribune caught my attention, but the breadth and depth of choice is highly impressive.

Tribune cocktail

‘Tribune’

You can dip into Midnight in Paris at Hyde & Co from Tuesdays to Sundays, 6pm till late. Check out the Hyde & Co website here, and find them on Twitter here. For more reviews and write-ups from @cjcallaghan, check out his Best of Bristol author page.

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