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5 Ways You Can Make a Difference in Bristol  

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make a difference in Bristol

It doesn’t take much to make a difference in Bristol

Bristol is one of the most creative and diverse cities I’ve ever lived in. It’s a place where independent businesses are encouraged and more importantly – thrive. In a single area you can find people from all walks of life coming together and talking until the early hours and Bristol’s celebrities are not individuals adorned in finery, wearing the latest brands; they are long-standing DJs and Big Issue vendors with incredible characters. Yeah, I’m looking at you Jeff. You Casanova, you!

When a documentary titled, ‘Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?‘ brought to light the severity of the situation regarding homelessness in Bristol, Bristolians rallied together on social media to discuss what they could do to help. When there was a recent fire down Colston Avenue, everyone was enquiring after the welfare of the students living there. Bristolians are just an epic bunch of people really.

However, it’s vital that we transform this passion into action, directing willing volunteers towards projects which urgently need them whether it’s to serve soup on the streets or mentor children.

No matter what your talents are, there is always a way in which you can use them to make a difference and bless other people. So here are five great organisations which provide opportunities you can flex around your existing commitments. You won’t regret signing up, it may just be one of the best things you ever do.

1. Mentor a Child/Run a Youth Group for Bristol Drugs Project 

volunteer bristol

Help out a family who have a history involving drugs or alcohol by mentoring a child or running a youth group for a year.

This is a great one for those of you who are outgoing and sociable. You can show these kids how great Bristol is; introduce them to activities they can get involved in and have fun with them, building up their confidence.

Mentoring will take up 3-4 hours of your time a week but you can work it around your availability. You’ll be required to attend a few training sessions but after that, you’ll be ready to get stuck in! Transport and activity costs are covered.

Get involved: Bristol Drugs Project 

2. Serve Some Soup

Bristol soup run trust

A lot of us are familiar with the homelessness that exists in Bristol but most of us aren’t too sure about how we can help. By participating in a soup run or helping out at Wild Goose cafe you will be able to actively benefit the homeless, providing them with a warming meal whilst taking the time to actually get to know them as people.

It is incredible how much one soup run can alter your perspective of what’s important in life. Every person has their own story to tell and the story of the homeless is certainly worth listening to. Trust me.

Get involved: Bristol Soup Run Trust

3. Buy the Big Issue 

Are you one of those people who is always on the go? You really want to help those less fortunate than you but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day? Buying the Big Issue each month could be your way of supporting the homeless:

Big Issue helps vendors to determine their own paths towards a better future and then connects them with local services to achieve it.

Vendors sell the Big Issue for £2.50, that’s the same price as your mid-morning latte. Forgo the caffeine a couple of times a month and help someone build a future – a pretty worthwhile sacrifice!

Find out more: Big Issue 

4. Go for a Run with a Difference 

good gym bristol

Calling all exercise enthusiasts and wannabe runners! You may have seen these guys running around Bristol a couple of times but as the name suggests, Good Gym aren’t just another running club.

Every week, Good Gym change up their running routes so that they can assist with physical tasks around the city to help benefit the community whilst also making themselves fitter. This could be weeding someone’s garden or visiting an isolated older person for a cuppa. Boost your fitness and support the local community at the same time; the best kind of multi-tasking.

Get involved: Good Gym Bristol

5. Taste Don’t Waste

The Surplus Supper Club was founded on the basis of reducing food waste to help the environment and taps into the creative minds of budding chefs and volunteers to turn what some disregard as waste into a culinary masterpiece.

So whether your skills lie in front of house, cooking, event management or bar service this can be a great way to build up experience and help save the environment. Win!

Get involved: Surplus Supper Club

Helping a stranger is one of the greatest things you can do with your time and with so many different opportunities, you can choose to help in a way which best suits your lifestyle and personal talents. Give it a go and see what happens!

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Behind the Scenes at Thatchers Cider

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I have a confession to make… I’m a cider snob. I like it dry or medium-dry, and cloudy – with the heady scent of fermented apples still brimming in the glass. The kind of cider that’s been greasing the wheels of agriculture and industry in Somerset for centuries. Not for me, the sugary, sweet, supermarket stuff… I’ll have a pint of real zider, and you can leave the twigs and leaves in, too.

Spanning four generations in the same family, Thatchers is our region’s most famous cider-maker – and their range of produce is broad. Although most of their ciders are slightly over-processed for my liking, they do still make cider the traditional way. I’d say a visit to their orchards at Myrtle Farm in the heart of Somerset’s cider country is a must-do for any cider-lover in Bristol.

Exploring the orchards

Image courtesy of Natacha the Franglaise

My recent visit began in the Thatchers Exhibition Orchard, where manager Chris oversees over 450 different apple varieties. The weather conditions in Somerset offer the perfect conditions for growing apples – with cold winters allowing the trees to lie dormant, and temperate springs promoting bee pollination and blossom-growth. True to form for this time of year, it was pissing with rain as we strolled among the lines of fruit-laden trees – but the apples like a little of that, too.

Hearing how Chris and his team fuse new apple buds to young root stocks to produce varieties like Dabinett and Jonagold was insightful, and his ability to harness the power of nature to produce the finest harvests made for fascinating listening. Our tour continued past the huge apple vats and ancient fermentation tanks to the state-of-the-art canning plant, and it was a joy to hear the various Thatchers team members share their passion for the product.

To the tasting…

Thatchers brought a selection of their lovely cider to Bristol a few months ago, so this was a fortunate second tasting for me. We sampled diverse brews including Redstreak, Old Rascal, Vintage, Haze, Katy, and more – each offering a different balance of scent and flavour to the last. It turns out Old Rascal is the team’s overall favourite Thatchers’ cider – a very fine drop indeed.

Lunch at The Railway Inn

Image courtesy of Bristol Bloggers

The Railway Inn is Thatchers’ local pub, with a broad selection of beers and ciders alongside a full menu of delicious dishes sourced, of course, from in and around Somerset. The pub has been lovingly converted from its original stone structure to a warm and welcoming space – with traditional snug, open bar area and stylish oak-beamed dining room. There’s garden seating for summer visitors, and a seasonal menu that makes the very most of the region’s natural produce.

Take a tour

If all this talk of apples and cider has got your taste buds tingling, you can find details on Thatchers’ guided tours and tastings on their website here. October is Cider and Perry Month, so now’s the ideal time to celebrate and support our local orchards and cider-makers. Harvest season is upon us too, so if you visit Thatchers there’s a good chance you’ll get to see the trucks arriving from across Somerset – their fruity haul ready for pressing.

If you head over, do book a table at The Railway Inn – it makes a good visit great. I can recommend the Thatchers Gold-battered fish and chips, and the sticky toffee pud hits the spot. Cider’s not bad ‘n’ all. Cheers!

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For more of @cjcallaghan’s reviews and write-ups, check out his Best of Bristol author page.

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Pata Negra Revamp Kitchen And Menu

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Pata Negra Steps It Up for the Autumn Season

Bristol’s proud independent streak is well-documented, and we’re lucky to have so many vibrant and exciting bars, restaurants and cafes to choose from in this city.

If you enjoy visiting and supporting Bristol’s varied independent venues, it’s likely you’ll have a list of places old and new that you’re just waiting for the right time to tick off.

The Ox on Corn Street had been sitting on my must-visit list for months when I went last month, and I was very, very impressed.

But from the style-savvy team behind The Milk Thistle and Hyde & Co, what else could I have expected?

Also on Corn Street, and also run by the same talented team, Pata Negra is another venue I’d been curious about for a while — but on those occasions when I’d peered in past the door, I’d never felt encouraged in. Despite the great location and classical décor, it somehow just didn’t feel tempting.

Fresh changes at Pata Negra

That’s all changed now. In the latest round of developments at Pata Negra, the kitchen has been brought up from the basement to take pride of place at the forefront of the room — and the difference is striking.

You step through the doorway to skilled chefs preparing delicious dishes in their new open-plan setting, with a fine haunch of cured Ibérico ham hanging from the wall.

Further towards the back of the room, welcoming window seats and banks of plush red-leather benches offer the perfect settings for intimate gatherings of friends.

A menu re-vamp for the autumn season

The engine-room of the restaurant is now fully on show, and a menu re-vamp has changed things up for autumn. Diners can expect seasonal twists on authentic Spanish classics alongside new dishes created to bring the best out of the kitchen’s open grills.

Meanwhile, the wine and sherry list showcases the best of the Iberian Peninsula — the perfect accompaniment to the delicious tapas dishes, fresh seafood and decadent desserts on offer.

For full details on Pata Negra’s refreshed autumn menu, head over to the website here.

For more of @cjcallaghan’s reviews and write-ups, check out his Best of Bristol author page.

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The Time I Beat Bristol’s Scariest Escape Room

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Hell in a cell Bristol

I’m put in many a tricky situation exploring the very ‘Best of Bristol’.

Usually up high, scaling buildings and cranes (#antimitchclimbs), but I didn’t think it would result in being locked in a prison cell with a psycho killer called Pig Face (pictured above). Welcome to Hell in a Cell, ay?

Now for some of you reading, Hell in the Cell will make you think of wrestling but I can promise you this is scarier than when Shane McMahon jumps off the top of that cell.

Probably..

Hell in a cell Bristol

The rather terrifying Pig Face.

Hidden beneath the old Crown Courts on Bridewell Street, within the cells, this has been dubbed “Bristol’s scariest attraction”. And so in the interest of research I took on Pig Face, and lived to tell the tale!

I can’t actually give away too much of the game, because this is an escape room and that just wouldn’t be cricket, would it?

What I can reveal though, should give you a taste of what to expect.

Hell in a cell bristol

You don’t know what you’re getting yourself in for until they handcuff you and throw a bag over your head..

Like any escape room, Hell in a Cell Bristol sets players challenges that they have to complete. Perhaps the first challenge is not backing out after you’re handcuffed with a sack placed over your head.

It’s then trying not to cack yourself as you’re led into the pitch black cells, where you know you’re not alone, but you can’t quite tell what’s there.

It’s that lovely fucker by the name of Pig Face.

Pig Face is reasonably fair at this point and allows you an hour to make your escape. It’s go time!

Oh, and all your belongings have been taken off you, so you can’t use your phone torch or ask Siri for help.

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You ok there hun?

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What I will say is that you bond pretty bastard quickly when you’re scrambling to find light and remove your handcuffs. I was with my good friend Colin Moody, but with three other people I did not know, and we came out of it with an unwavering sense of camaraderie.

That probably explains why this Bristol escape room has proven so popular with corporate clients in the city. Hell, it’s proven pretty popular with all but one reviewer on a popular site that rhymes with whip chastiser. That person claimed it wasn’t very scary. Ooooooo sorry ‘ard.

The game itself was challenging, terrifying and fun (if you like being scared). It will most certainly fill you with adrenaline and leave you in need of a celebratory drink if you do make it out.

This is NOT for the faint hearted. I don’t scare easy, and if you’re like me you won’t feel a sense of fear, but you’ll definitely be made to jump. Nobody is immune to that.

If you do scare easily, go to the bathroom beforehand. Or don’t, these are real holding cells so you could always have a pee in there..

Fancy it? Then click here to book.

Tag us in your psycho selfies on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook if you take on Pig Face

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