Bristol’s best Pubs

bristol pubs
bristol pubs

The best pubs in Bristol

Who doesn’t like a traditional pub? They’re part of British culture – so much so, they’re now woven into the fabric of daily life (and have been for hundreds of years). In fact, it was the Roman invasion that brought the concept of the public house to our shores.

It might have taken a while (say, a few centuries) for the pub as we know it to come to fruition, but in that time, they’ve become so much more than simply a house serving ale. Throughout time, they’ve served as places of business, social reform, diversion and in the absence of the printing press, even as the local news.

Luckily for Bristolians, the city isn’t short on traditional Bristol pubs, many of which also serve delicious food and fabulous ales. Here are just a few of Bristol’s first and foremost pubs.

bristol pubs

Bristol’s oldest pubs

There’s some debate over the title for oldest pub in the city, with several contenders vying for first place.

The Hatchet Inn claims to have been established around 1606, and is named after the woodsmen of Clifton Wood. It’s stood the test of time, and now offers a range of delicious pub grub, as well as a tasty pint.

Another contender for the title is the Llandoger Trow, built in 1664. With its stunning Tudor exterior set on the sunny cobbled street in the heart of the city, it’s a great option for those warm, summer days. The Bristol pub is also steeped in history; legend has it that the Llandoger Trow was a favorite drinking spot for the infamous privateer Blackbeard, as well as the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

A third contender for the title is The Rummer, just off of St Nick’s Market. Dating back to 1241, The Rummer’s flagstone floors and huge fireplace act as visible reminders of the pub’s longstanding history. It now boasts its own micro distillery, brewing batches of aromatic gins and spiced rums that you can sample in the bar (along with a plethora of other spirits).

bristol pubs

The Steam Crane

This Bristol Pub is located south of the river in Bedminster, The Steam Crane is pretty hard to miss. Its elaborately painted exterior depicts an olden day nautical scene, while the interior décor aligns to a more traditional pub theme, with sprinkling of modernism.

Leather armchairs somehow blend seamlessly with the traditional fireplaces and wooden bar that you’d expect from a traditional British pub. There’s a wide variety of beer, ales and wine available, and the food comes highly recommended by locals and visitors alike.

It’s great for larger groups, so if you’re planning a Bristol stag weekend, then the Stream Crane is a great place to start your celebrations.

bristol pubs

The Albion, Clifton

A rather swish take on the tradition British pub, the Albion is a very popular haunt in the heart of bustling Clifton village. Dating back to the 17th Century, the building has been expertly renovated and designed with impeccable taste.

It’s a winner for all seasons; lazy summer afternoons fly by in the ample courtyard garden, while winter Sunday lunches have to be experienced by the comfort of a roaring fire and accompanied by a delicious glass of red.

Although it might not be one for the budget conscious, The Albion is certainly a must for those who want to enjoy their pint in more upmarket surroundings. The food menu is seasonal, the ingredients impeccable quality and the dishes, reassuringly traditional. There’s literally something for everyone, one of our favourite Bristol pubs.

bristol pubs

The Jersey Lily

As far as Bristol pubs go, The Jersey Lily is young, fun and full of character. Situated on lively Whiteladies Road, the pub enjoys a relaxed atmosphere, which attracts a mixed – yet equally welcome – crowd. The food is award-winning; sourced from local suppliers, you can sink your teeth into a huge variety of scrumptious snacks and dinners.

From tapas to share to Sunday Roasts, there’s literally something for everyone on their extensive menu. If you’re more interested in the drinks menu, then you won’t be disappointed.

There’s a huge selection of wines for all tastes on offer – as well as cocktails. And if live music is up your street, make sure you check out the live acoustic on Thursdays, while you and a friend sip on two delicious craft cocktails, for the price of one.

bristol pubs

Amoeba, Clifton

If you’re a cocktail connoisseur, then you’ve found mecca. Nestled on a quiet Clifton street, Amoeba’s bright red exterior and candle-lit window makes it stand out on dark, winter nights.

Once you’re inside and had a chance to peruse the extensive cocktail menu, it’ll start standing out for a host of other reasons. Perhaps it’s the exotic collection of mixes, spirits and drinks on offer, or the expertise in which the staff guide you through the menu. Or it could simply be the incredible flavours of the ingenious concoctions, or relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

The venue also offers free event hire – a great choice for Bristol hen weekends who want to be based in and around Clifton village.

Private Dining Bristol – Bristol’s best private dining restaurants

Private Dining Bristol
Private Dining Bristol

Best Bristol private dining restaurants

So, you’ve got your night out sorted and your daytime activities down to a tee but now you need think about food. There’s plenty of choices when it comes to dining out but when you’re planning a Bristol hen weekend to remember, a standard dinner reservation isn’t going to live up to the rest of your plans.   To help you find something special, we’ve rounded up some of the best private dining experiences in and around the city.

Private Dining Bristol

Racks, Clifton

The ever-popular Racks is often touted as ‘Bristol’s best party destination’ and there’s plenty of reasons why. It could be the free venue hire, the bar stacked with some of the best gins in England or the mouth-watering menus. We think that it’s a combination of all three.   Racks can cater for up to 200 people although the venue is split into a variety of spaces, each with its own character and original features. Fancy trying some of those fine gins? Make the evening extra special and take part in one of their tasting masterclasses. Gin not your tipple of choice? They offer an ale tasting session too. Either can be booked as part of a private dining package or separately.

Private Dining Bristol

No.4 Clifton Village, Clifton

No.4 is set in the heart of Clifton Village and we guarantee the bride-to-be will love this stylish dining destination. It’s the perfect venue for a sophisticated evening soiree. With two fantastic rooms available, the venue is ideal for hosting either smaller, intimate parties or larger groups and if you’re planning a summer hen weekend, their idyllic gardens are perfect for dining al fresco.   They’ll also serve you the best Pimm’s you’ve ever had (take our word for it). Their menus will leave you spoilt for choice and, with a team dedicated to helping you plan your party, what you’re going to eat is the only choice you’ll have to worry about.

Private Dining Bristol

Hotel du Vin & Bistro, City Centre

If you’re looking for nothing short of luxury when it comes to private dining then Hotel du Vin should be top of your list. With a variety of rooms available to hire, they each exude a unique sense of charm and character. This venue has an extra special treat in store for smaller parties too at the Sommelier’s table.   Start your evening with champagne and canapés upon your arrival before being treated to a sumptuous five course menu with wines matched to each. There’s even an expert to talk you through each one. It’s not just dinner, it’s a truly is a unique dining experience and an evening you’ll never forget.

Private Dining Bristol

The Albion, Clifton Village

In the heart of the village lies The Albion, a historic venue that first opened its doors in the 19th century and has become a firm favourite. It’s a perfect blend of classic and contemporary and the menu, as well as the venue itself, pays homage to its history with a nod to the new.   The private dining room on the first floor can host up to 30 people and the menu has something that everyone will love. From the freshest fish, the finest cuts of meat to desserts that are to die for, The Albion is guaranteed to provide you with good food, good wine and a good time.

Private Dining Bristol
The Jetty, Corn Street, City Centre

With architecture to leave you awestruck and a lively yet relaxed atmosphere that makes everyone feel at home, The Jetty will leave any bride-to-be feeling like a princess. The multi-award-winning restaurant boasts a Sansovino inspired banking hall for those looking to host large parties (it seats up to 300) as well as several more modestly sized dining rooms for occasions that are a little more low-key but just as special.   Before the day, the restaurant team will work with you to create a bespoke menu which will be complimented by their selection of fine wines and eclectic cocktail list. All you’ll need to do is sit back, relax and have the time of your lives.

Book ahead

We know that dinner can be a bit of an afterthought when you’ve already put together an exciting itinerary but it’s definitely something that you need to plan. Why not use it as an excuse to plan something special for the bride-to-be?   Private dining can be a formal affair or a casual gathering.   Either way, it’ll turn an unforgettable weekend into an extra special occasion. After all, you are celebrating.

Is Bristol the best city in the UK?

bristol best uk city
bristol best uk city

Bristol : The best city in the UK: why the surprise?

In March, Bristol was awarded first place in the Sunday Times ‘Best place to live 2017’ Guide. And now the announcement is ‘old news’, I feel safe to vocalise my surprise at, well, the surprise.

Seven years ago, before I moved to the city, I may have been among those raising an eyebrow over Bristol’s new accolade. I’ve lived in several of the country’s bustling cosmopolitan hubs, as well as some of the more rural spots, and wasn’t that impressed with either end of the spectrum.

But having spent some time getting to know Bristol and all it has to offer, it’s no wonder to me that it keeps coming up trumps. And in my humble opinion, here are the reasons why.

bristol best uk city

The history of Bristol

Bristol is steeped in history, much of which is still tangible to this day. From the 12th Century Temple Church, to the SS Great Britain and even the labyrinth of caves in Redcliffe, Bristol’s past fuses seamlessly with its modern-day vibe.

The city can even boast an array of famous former occupants, such as the notorious Edward Teach (otherwise known as Blackbeard), Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and even the elusive street artist Banksy.

bristol best uk city

Bristol's food scene

From the North to the South of the river, Bristol is home to hundreds of award-winning restaurants and cafes to sate all appetites. Every meal is more-than catered for ten times over; try a healthy breakfast of smashed avocados and poached egg at Primrose Café, or a less-healthy all-you-can-drink Prosecco brunch at Brace & Browns.

If you’ve time for lunch, you could do much worse than the Burger Joint in Bedminster, before a first-rate dinner at the Pony and Trap. (It’s a few miles out of Bristol, but the food is first-rate and the scenic views of the Somerset countryside are stunning).

Even the much-loved chains you expect to encounter in a city are situated on water fronts or in beautiful period buildings. If you can handle a cocktail or two, the covert, speak-easy themed Milk Thistle has some of the best mixes in the city – a city, by the way, famed for its love of gin.

bristol best uk city

Activities available in Bristol

There are so many Bristol activities, no audience is excluded and there’s literally something for every event. Water babies can take to the river for a cruise on the Avon, or even try their hand at paddle boarding.

Young families can spend a day at @Bristol, guaranteed to educate all and keep the kids entertained for hours. Those looking for a romantic evening can wander through the quaint, picturesque streets of Clifton before an intimate meal at one of the many restaurants (or enjoy a cocktail or two by candlelight).

Large groups can make the most of Bristol’s extensive range of bars and clubs, but it doesn’t have to end there: Groups of grown-ups (stags and hens included) wanting a west-country themed day out need look no further than West Country Games. Welly throwing, Drunk Pub Skittles and Pitchfork Duels are only a few of the crazy games that are guaranteed to bring people together and create memories that’ll last a lifetime.

bristol best uk city
Location, location, location

In short, what isn’t on Bristol’s doorstep? The city is well situated to offer some of the best of Britain. Take a short (less then two hours) drive south and you’re in Devon, home to seaside towns such as Sidmouth and Lime Regis, perfect boltholes for romantic weekends away, or a wonderful family day out.

London is easy to reach by car or train – the latter only taking about an hour and a half. If you’re looking to go further afield, Bristol airport charters flights to Edinburgh, the continent and even as the USA.

There are so many reasons why Bristol is an incredible place to live. Furthermore, future plans to improve Bristol will only fuel the love for the city, which residents – and visitors alike – find hard to contend.

Take a chance on Weston – The glamorous gran of the West

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend
Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Take a chance on Weston – The glamorous gran of the West

You have been entrusted to organise a hen party for your best friend. This seems a simple enough task except the hen wants to keep costs down. This will mean that flying to one of Europe’s hot spots is totally out of the question, especially so with the current exchange rates.

 

Basically you will have to look a little nearer to home and be at the mercy of the British climate. That said, finding somewhere fun for the hen weekend shouldn’t be an issue as there are numerous destinations that cater for hen parties.

 

You could follow the party crowd to Newquay, Newcastle or Brighton, or you could try somewhere a bit different that offers a seaside atmosphere, but is also within striking distance of a number of outdoor activities to keep the girls entertained.

 

With no further ado, let me introduce you to the number one seaside hen party destination in the west of England, Weston-super-Mare!

 

Don’t let the critics of Weston (and there are a few, quite a few actually) put you off. We are talking about a town that has a ‘glamorous grandma’ feel about it.  Yes she has seen better days, but there is still life in the old girl yet.

 

Life’s about taking a chance, so take a chance on a Weston-Super-Mare Hen Weekend.  What’s the worst thing that can happen (apart from the hen choking on her scampi)?

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Getting to Weston Super Mare

Couldn’t be easier! Trains, planes, automobiles. No problem! It’s on the main London line and easy to get to from nearby Bristol Temple Meads.

 

The nearby summer car park, otherwise known as the M5 motorway passes close to the town. You could even fly to Bristol airport if you are coming from further afield. It might even work out cheaper than the train. Bristol airport is actually very accessible to Weston.

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Accommodation in Weston

Lots and lots to choose from. The budget concious bride-to-be will love you. Weston is as cheap as chips. It also has cheap chips too, and scampi! Seriously though, all budgets in Weston are catered for and there are some lovely little traditional B&Bs near the beach, which is where you want to be right?

 

As per usual, it pays to book as far in advance as possible. Weston can be booked out solid during the silly season.

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend

Activities in Weston and surrounds

In Weston itself the main activities would centre around the beach and pier.

 

The historic pier is certainly worth a few hours of the girls time. There are lots of fun and games that are not just targeted at children. It’s so much fun that it might even keep the thirstier hens out of Wetherspoons, for a while anyway.

 

There is a £15 entry fee that some people find a little on the steep side, possibly due to the fact that in Weston you could be thigh high in chips and prosecco for considerably less.

 

With a traditional British seaside pier there is always the chance of winning back your entry fee. There are the penny slots and bingo. Hang out with those wise old blue rinses and it might just be your lucky weekend!

 

If you are prepared to take a trip out of Weston then you could sample the nostalgic delights of an ‘It’s a Knockout’ themed games. West Country Games are located nearby towards Bristol and offer a fun filled couple of hours which will likely be the most memorable event of your Weston super mare stag & hen weekend.

 

In fact the West Country Games experience might even be more memorable than the wedding itself! They cater for groups sized from 8 to 30 or more. If you are under 8 in numbers, they can still offer you the games experience, but you’ll need to pay for 8 places.

 

Perhaps after the more active stuff you could take the girls out for traditional afternoon tea in one of Weston’s many tearooms. The areas you need to head to are Grove Park, Ashcombe Park and Clarence Park. Think of it as somewhere to go that offers a little ‘calm before the storm’ wind down action. Cake is also a nice way to line those stomachs too!

Weston Super Mare Hen Weekend
Weston Super Mare at night

There are plenty of places to eat in Weston and all budgets are catered for, well perhaps not a Saudi prince, but the girls will no doubt be full and happy!

 

There are the usual brand restaurants like Prezzo and Pizza Express. Weston also has a large number of independent places too, after all, the crowds still flock to the old girl for their summer holidays.

 

Of course you cannot leave Weston without sampling some of the best fish and chips in the world! What kind of hen party would miss out on a fish supper?

 

As for drinking, there are lots of pubs and clubs which are usually quite busy on Fridays and Saturday nights. We are also talking about cheap drinks here. This is not Monte Carlo, but don’t let that put you off.

Winter Wedding Stag & Hen Weekends in and around Bath

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath
Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Winter Wedding Stag & Hen Weekends in and around Bath

Everybody wants a stag or hen weekend they’ll never forget (if they can remember it in the first place). But when it’s cold and the winter weather threatens to dampen the party spirit, how do you go about planning the perfect Bath hen weekend or stag do?

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Talk to the guest of honour

There tends to be two types of people when it comes to winter: those who don’t mind the cold and carry on as usual and those who, if human hibernation was an option, you wouldn’t see for six months of the year.  This being the case, it’s important that you plan something that your stag or hen is going to enjoy. There’s no point in planning an outdoor adventure if they live in fear of frostbite through the winter months.

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Planning a brilliant Bath stag weekend in the winter

If you’re planning a Bath stag weekend as your stag’s final weekend as a single man, you’ll be spoilt for choice whatever the weather. If you’re looking for something active and exciting, we can provide you with an unforgettable afternoon as you compete in West Country Games. We move indoors for the coldest months too, so even if your stag gets the shivers at the thought of being outside, we’ve got you covered.

 

Heading into the evening, if you fancy a flutter you can hit the casino or, if the stag is game for a laugh without being the laugh himself, comedy clubs often attract established and up-and-coming talent throughout the year. Don’t forget to feed the party. The city has a wide selection of gourmet eateries and high-street restaurants so whatever appeals to your appetite, Bath has you covered.

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Planning a winter wonderland Bath hen weekend

There’s plenty to do in Bath during the winter months that will keep your whole hen party entertained and give the bride-to-be a weekend to remember. If you’re visiting in the later part of the year, the famous Bath Christmas markets are a fabulous addition to the extensive luxury shopping you’ll find in and around the city centre.

 

If your hen is more Lara Croft than Carrie Bradshaw, there’s a variety of outdoor adventures close to the city too. From zip lining to quad biking and everything in between. If she’s after adrenaline, a Bath hen weekend has you covered.

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath

Keeping warm and cosy

Or if you prefer to do something totally different and energetic indoors, then there is always West Country Indoor Games running from November to February in a cosy barn themed indoor space.

After your day of action and adventure or exploring the city’s designer destinations, warm up and unwind in a natural thermal water spa and finish your afternoon with high tea in the elegant and historic Pump Room. If you’re planning on partying into the night, Bath has a number of well-placed boutique cocktail bars as well as a selection of livelier clubs for you to dance the night away.

If you like the sound of this then we do recommend you head to Three Brothers for a very large burger to line your stomach beforehand! Trust us, you’ll be thanking us in the morning!

Winter Wedding Stag Hen Bath
Have a backup plan

If you’re planning a stag or hen weekend in Bath we can guarantee you’ll find plenty to do and the whole party will have the time of their lives. The only thing we can’t guarantee? The weather. If you are planning on doing something outdoors it’s always worth looking into alternatives just in case Mother Nature isn’t on your side.

 

And if she is, make sure you wrap up warm!

Top 5 Reasons to have a Hen or Stag party in Bristol

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do
top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

Top 5 Reasons to have a Hen or Stag party in Bristol

If some of you were lucky enough to get engaged over the festive period then this couldn’t come at a better time. We know that choosing where to have your last big bash before married life is a big decision. You will, only do it once after all. We are here to help ensure that you have the best send off possible. This is one decision you don’t want to get wrong so head to Bristol – you won’t be disappointed!

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

1. ACCOMODATION

First thing to organise for any successful Hen or Stag do is a warm bed to stagger home to after one too many drinks. Whether you are saving all the pennies for the big day or want to indulge and treat yourself, Clifton Hotels will be able to help. Choose from four hotels which cover a range of price points, The Washington Guesthouse, The Clifton Hotel, The Rodney Hotel, the Berkeley Square Hotel and luxury apartments – Berkeley Suites (if you are feeling a little indulgent).

 

With this Bristol-born, independent hotel group, you can be sure of quality customer service and a great nights sleep, if that is you decide to get any! All are able to offer discounts for group bookings which will come in handy when you need to stretch the budget to pay for another round!

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

2. ACTIVITES

No Hen or Stag do would be complete without some sort of activity that will make you all look ridiculous and keep you in stitches retelling the stories for the rest of the year. West Country Games offers just that.

 

Nine hilarious West Country inspired games, from Cider Run to Wurzel Knockout and our personal favourite, Welly Wanging. We recommend booking this nearer the start of the trip, it all look looks a bit much to tackle on a hangover; however we are sure some of you will be lad enough to take on that challenge…

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do

3. BOATS

This may seem like a bit of strange one, but with the River Avon running right through the middle of the city we had to mention the wonderful array of boats you can wander onto and explore. If a civilised affair is what you have in mind, be sure to book a table at Glassboat. A delicious meal with lit up views over the river is probably just the thing to recover from a day wanging wellies. Alternatively head to Thekla for one of their infamous Pop Confessional nights if you feel up to it, where it will be guilty pop pleasures until 4 in the morning.

 

If you like the sound of this then we do recommend you head to Three Brothers for a very large burger to line your stomach beforehand! Trust us, you’ll be thanking us in the morning!

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do
4. COCKTAILS

When is comes to cocktails, this is one thing that Bristol does not take lightly. Whatever your tipple may be there will be something heavenly waiting for you in one of the many speakeasies hidden across the city. These places are strictly need to know, but we’re sure your maid of honour/best man will be up to the challenge and will be able to get hold of the information easily…no pressure!

 

Our favourites include The Milk Thistle and Red Light, (there may be a clue in the name to one of those but we’ll leave that to you). If you want to get a bit more hands-on head to The Square Club where they offer the option of not one, but two cocktail master classes to suit your specific needs.

 

Be sure to pay attention though as there will be competition at the end of the class to test your knowledge and there’s a bottle of bubbly in it for the winner!

 

Turtle Bay also needs a shout out. If you’re starting early then this one is ideal as it’s two for one on all cocktails from 12-7pm.

top 5 reasons for a bristol hen do
5. BREAKFAST

When you wake up with a dry mouth and a sore head from partying a little too much the night before, craving anything and everything fried, breakfast will be King. And our vote for King of the hangover breakfast in Bristol is Racks Bar and Kitchen.

 

They serve breakfast until 10am which means you can savour a bit of extra time horizontal before attempting to stand up! Stomach the full English with all the trimmings or take it easy and go for poached eggs on sourdough with a choice of toppings.

 

With Bloody Marys on offer why not opt for hair of the dog and we’re sure you’ll be feeling ready for the day in no time!

Wassailing this winter in the West Country

wassailing bristol
wassailing bristol

Come a-wassailing this winter – in a West Country orchard

Here in these ‘ere parts of the West Country, we think cider is gert lush – and we’ll go to great lengths to make sure there’s a bumper crop of apples so there’s no shortage of our favourite tipple when yer Wassailing in the West Country!

wassailing bristol

Noisy orchard-wassailing revelry

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself here early in the new year, and your ear drums are up to the challenge, you could join in some noisy orchard-wassailing revelry.

This wonderfully weird, age-old good luck custom involves blessing our beloved apple trees in the hope this will help secure a healthy apple harvest – and a plentiful supply of cider.

It’s an ancient tradition that appears to be growing in popularity over recent years – and, since it usually ends up as a fairly lively and raucous affair, it can offer just the antidote we need to brighten a cold, damp January evening.

wassailing bristol

Singing to the trees, and generally making a racket

If you still need any further persuading that it’s a good idea to spend a chilly winter’s evening in a West Country orchard, be assured that you’ll also often find there’s some hearty West Country grub being served up to help you soak up all the cider.

The word “wassail” is said to derive from a Saxon expression, ‘Waes hael’, meaning good health. Traditionally, the apple orchard custom involved reciting incantations, singing to the trees, and generally making a racket – sometimes even firing shotguns into the bare wintry branches – all in a bid to frighten away evil spirits that might get in the way of a bountiful harvest.

The “Apple Tree Man”

Ceremonies vary from one place to the next, but they usually share a few important elements. A wassail King and Queen are crowned to lead the songs and ceremonies, for example, and the procession usually moves towards the largest, finest or oldest tree in the orchard, which is chosen to represent all the other trees.

The “Apple Tree Man” is regarded as the spirit of this tree, and to appease him the Queen places a cider-soaked piece of toast up in the bough of the tree, and pours more cider around its base. The crowd then recite an incantation:

Here’s to thee, old apple tree,
That blooms well, bears well.
Hats full, caps full,
Three bushel bags full,
An’ all under one tree.
Hurrah! Hurrah!

wassailing bristol
According to legend

Traditional wassailing songs end with a loud “Hurrah!”, and the whole event is a noisy affair, with loud gunshots and pot- and bucket-banging, just to make completely sure the spirits have got the message loud and clear.

According to legend, this is not only to scare off any evil ones who might ruin the coming harvest, but also to awaken the sleeping trees so that they bring a good supply of apples.

Meanwhile, present-day revellers enjoy the spectacle whilst tucking into traditional West Country food such as apple cake, washed down with a tankard or three of warming mulled cider – and the fun continues later into the evening with folk music, more cider, and plenty of laughter!

Our top tip...

The majority of wassailing events take place after Christmas, in January and February, with a peak in activity between 10-18th January.

Our friends down at Wilkins Cider throw on an annual Wassailing party, if you can handle yer cider then take up the challenge and get yourselves down there!

It’s Cider Making Time – West Country Style

cider making west country style
cider making west country style

Cider Making - West Country Style

Friends… Romans… Country Bumpkins, lend me your beers (and more importantly, ciders!), jump off your haystacks and come with us on a little tour of the finest drink known to man in these ‘ere parts.  Lovely, home-grown Scrumpy Cider.

Nearly half the apples grown in the UK are now used to make cider.  Thousands of orchards have been planted to keep up with the demand.  And this is the time of year farmers the land over will be harvesting their apples to make your favourite Amber Nectar.

cider making west country style

Imagine the scene, it’s a lovely sunny day, you’re reclining on a deckchair in the garden and sipping on your next pint of cider, total bliss.  But what you might not realise is that there’s a just a little bit of history and folklore that went into that gulp.

The old Somerset custom called Wassailing talks of cider being poured over tree roots to bless the trees and produce a bumper crop for the forthcoming season.  Then, (this is my favourite bit) there’s the ‘Apple Tree Man’, the spirit of the oldest tree in the whole orchard.  There’s an old West Country tale where a man leaves his last mug of mulled cider to the trees, and the spirit of the Apple Tree Man takes him straight to the buried treasure.  I mean, come on, what more incentive do you need to believe in the power of the Scrumpy?

cider making west country style

Even better news is that the best time to believe in that power is now.  Why now you may ask?  Well, this year’s cider harvest is upon us and the freshest apples are there, begging to be picked and made into cider.  In fact, it’s very easy to make it yourself and there are lots of great recipes out there.  What’s more rewarding and cheaper than pressing your own cider?

I’ve bought a cider making kit this year and have the feverish determination of a rampant Wassailer.  I’ve carefully picked the best apples from our garden and will be looking forward to the bit where I get to throw them into a big bucket and punish them with a pole.  After the therapeutic fun bits comes the waiting, the long wait.  But there is good news, if you let the cider ferment now it should allow for the best taste in time for Christmas.  And let’s be honest, what better present to receive than seeing Auntie Pat writhing on the living room floor after three pints of homemade cider and a friendly game of twenty questions?

cider making west country style

On the other hand, if you, like most sane people, just love drinking homegrown cider then there are lots of cider tours around.  Here at West Country Games, we offer a traditional tour with the best in homegrown cider without having to make any effort at all.  We’ll transport you to two countryside pubs, a cider farm (where you taste a further four ciders with a fine selection of cheese), and then get driven back to your humble abode.  Life doesn’t get much sweeter than this, even the ‘Apple Tree Man’ leading you to buried treasure sounds a bit rubbish in comparison.

If, for some strange reason I haven’t managed to sway your opinion on the humble West County cider then I feel there’s no hope left for you.  And as for you James Lavis, you’re dismissed.  Mainly because I am tired, and incredibly pissed.

cider making west country style

For almost 8 years I’ve called Bristol home and 5 of those have been spent out in the West Country Games field with a scoreboard and camera and groups of fun, feisty and often very hungover stags and hens. West Country Games sums up one of the things I love most about Bristol, there’s always something different and often slightly crazy going on.

Anyway, must go, I can hear the last track of ‘The Best of the Wurzels’ playing.

Katie has worked as an Activity Instructor, Site Manager and Event Assistant over the 5 years she’s been working at West Country Games.

Simple Things Festival, Bristol – All You Need to Know!

Simple Things Festival Bristol
Simple Things Festival 2018

Simple Things Festival, Bristol - All You Need to Know!

Current Mixmag cover star Helena Hauff headlines the main room with her hyper in-demand blend of uncompromising electro, EBM and techno clatter. A perfect accompaniment, Detroit electro mainstay and Drexciya affiliate DJ Stingray appears alongside.

Room Two showcases one of the most revered contemporary labels operating today – Whities. Nic Tasker’s label is defined by a spirit of imagination and innovation, specialising in unique, curveball records that expertly toe the line between experimentalism and functionality.

Alongside Tasker will be a special live performance from Bristol favourites Giant Swan, plus DJ set from Minor Science, Coby Sey and Deena Abdelwahed.

Elsewhere in Lakota, Bristol label Wisdom Teeth curates Room 3 with a line-up of psychedelic, broken-beat and sub-heavy techno.

The bill is topped by rising US star DJ Python, whose 2017 debut album Dulce Compañia introduced the world to his singular ‘deep reggaeton’ sound.

Python is joined by Björk-endorsed club experimentalist LOFT, local heroine Anina, and Wisdom Teeth label-head Facta, whose most recent release saw him joining the ranks at kindred Bristol imprint, Livity Sound.

Futureboogie return to the Coroners Court with Glasgow selectors supreme Optimo and the brilliant Jane Fitz, with Studio 89 also taking up their usual space in the second Coroners Court with rising talent Mafalda headlining.

The rest of the nighttime line-up is completed by Gramrcy, Em Williams, Dave Harvey, Eris Drew and Studio 89 DJs.

simple things festival bristol

COLSTON HALL FOYER

Although the rest of the venue  is shut, the Foyer is being opened for some of the day time performances, starting at 14:00 with Chaouche. Don’t miss Jun Kamoda the Japanese DJ who will be spinning some eclectic dance tunes that will get you on your feet!

Who can I catch there then?

Jun Kamoda (DJ), The Mauskovic Dance Band, Helena Deland, Emma-Jean Thackray, Dena, Haiku Hands, Connie Constance, Alaskalaska, Halo Maud, Chaouche

simple things festival bristol

LAKOTA – 6 rooms of music – DJs and Dance music

Any Bristolian worth his or her salt can admit to a misspent youth here.  Once Bristol’s self-acclaimed ‘Superclub’, Lakota has gone through many changes over the years.  The club and adjoining former Courthouse set the scene for the majority of the late-night festivities of Simple Things.

There will be a proper battle between rooms as each is curated by someone different, ranging from Crack Magazine to the record label Wisdom Teeth, who will be banging out some experimental psychedelic club music!

There are too many great acts playing to mention them all, but we’ll see you down the front for Björk-endorsed club experimentalist Loft, followed by DJ Python’s unique mix of deep house, shoegaze trance and reggaeton!

Who can I catch there then?

Lakota, Room 1 – Gramrcy, DJ Stingray, Helena Hauff, Em Williams

Lakota Room 2 – Tasker, Minor Science, Giant Swan (Live), Deena Abdelwahed, Coby Sey

Lakota Room 3 – Facta, Anina, DJ Python, Loft, Facta B2B Anina

Coroners Court – Optimo, Jane Fitz, Dave Harvey, Christophe, Eris Drew, Mafalda, David J Bull

Simple Things Rough Trade 2018

ROUGH TRADE

Newly popped up on the Bristol records scene, Rough Trade hosts regular live performances and signings, but they’re stepping it up a gear for Simple Things with a great line up from 3pm right through to 11:30pm! Check out post-punk Irish band Fontaines DC, championed by Steve Lamacq.

Who can I catch there then?

Parrots, Current Joys, Yassassin, Self Esteems, Great News, Fontaines DC, & Mellah

SWX Simple Things 2018

SWX

Better known as a club than a venue, SWX have opened their doors up to gigs in recent years. It’s a great space to see live acts with a slightly sloping floor giving good visibility to the more vertically challenged of us! Make sure to see exciting new break out rapper Octavian from South London, his UK tour has sold out so this might be the only chance you’d get to see him!

Preceded by jazz fusion artist Kamaal Williams, this sums up all that is great about the variety of performers at Simple Things!

Who can I catch there then?

Octavian, Kamaal Williams, Rival Consoles, Iglooghost, Tirzah, Wooze.

Simple Things Festival Bristol

O2 ACADEMY

As Colston Hall is shut for refurbishment this year (normally the hub of the festival), the O2 Academy takes on the artists who would normally play there. One of the largest venues on the Simple Things circuit this year, it also provides the climax to the weekend’s day time performances with Slowdive on from 23:00 – 00:30.

Get there early for a spot close to the stage to hear this legendary guitar band! It may not be known as the most atmospheric of venues in the city but fear not as Crack Magazine is taking over proceedings for the day!

Who can I catch there then?

Slowdive, Rolling Blackouts, James Holden, Black Midi, Jimothy Lacoste, Scalping and Lice

simple things festival bristol

BEST OF THE REST

The Sportsmans host an intimate back room serving up a mix of live bands and electronica. Muso-run basement venue, Zed Alley, will also be stepping up for the festival so make sure you head down into the vaults too! Round the corner, The Christmas Steps will be hosting the Independent Label Market with performances from midday.

All just down the road from the O2 Academy and Colston Hall Foyer, they serve as a very handy pit stop en route to other city centre venues

Who can I catch there then?

Sportsman – Warmduscher, Meat Raffle, Sorry, Rascalton, Bilk, Sistertalk, Haze, Wych Elm, Sans

Zed Alley – Tamu Massif, 404, Tungz, Herbal Tea, Denzel Himself, Last Hyena, Poisonous Birds, Tara Clerkin, Ebu

The Christmas Steps – Rough Trade DJ’s, Ellie Stokes, Kiia, Matt Sainsbury, Western Soul, Kokoro (Ambient Set)

Moving on to the night time venues and listings..

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

For more information on this great autumn festival, please visit the Simple Things Festival website.

All New & Exciting – West Country Indoor Games

west country indoor games
west country indoor games

All New & Exciting - West Country Indoor Games

You don’t need an Olympic gold medal to take part in West Country Indoor Games.

Regardless of whether your second home is the gym or you last exercised with Mr Motivator in the 1980’s, everyone is back on the same level when it comes these games!

Age also holds no barrier, with rave reviews from the most youthful to the most senior of participants, you certainly don’t have to be a millennial to enjoy the West Country Indoor Games experience!

West Country Games are an activity company celebrating all things “West Country”!  Their hilarious events have been drawing in people from far and wide since 2011 and they have earnt themselves the #1 spot for outdoor activities in Bristol on Trip Advisor.

Hugely popular with stag and hen groups visiting Bristol and Bath, West Country Games’ outdoor events welcome over 400 people a day at the height of season.   On the back of this success, the popular Bristol-based activities outfit are now moving indoors.

Their barn-themed venue will play host to the indoor version of their West Country shenanigans from November 2016.  West Country Indoor Games will run on Saturdays until March 2017 and take place at Merchant’s Academy Sports Centre, Withywood, Bristol.  Starting times are 10:30am or 1:30pm, subject to availability.

west country indoor games

The activity day features up to 8 themed activities, each of which is dafter than the next!  Each game uses a selection of large inflatables, catapults, skittles, wellies and even a ride on sheep.

Games include The Cider Run, Sheep Shenanigans, West Country Wipeout and Wurzel Knockout.  From podium battles with giant pitch forks to jumping over a sweeper arm operated by somebody on an exercise bike, the side-splitting games are guaranteed to have you rolling in the hay with laughter all day long.

For the competitive ones amongst you, points mean prizes!  So knuckle down and battle it out with your friends or colleagues as the person in your group with the highest score will win a prize.  Don’t forget to do your lunges and hamstring stretches beforehand as your instructors will be looking for the most accurate Welly Wangers, the most determined Cider Runners and the fiercest Vicky Pollard Handbag wrestlers out there.

west country indoor games

Once the day is finally done, you may fondly reminisce about the time you were gripping onto a sheep’s back for dear life or battering your friend with a handbag. Fear not if your memory is a little hazy as you can prompt it with your free group photographs.

Your enthusiastic Activity Host will gladly snap away as you take on each of the games and will be sure to capture some winning shots of you all in your finest moments of athletic achievement!   To add to the fun, West Country Games will provide your stag, hen or birthday person with free fancy dress.

Choose between a selection of farm animal onesies; pigs, horses, sheep, chickens, ducks and cows, as well as some rather fetching milk maid outfits that will make any stag feel at one with the West Country! Snacks and drinks are available throughout the day and there are changing facilities and free parking on site.

west country indoor games

West Country Indoor Games begin their indoor season on Saturday 12th November 2016.  Prices are £39.50 with a special offer of 15% off currently running.  You can book with a £50 deposit and the final balance isn’t due until 28 days before your activity day.  A minimum group size of 8 people applies. Go to our indoor games webpage for more information.

west country indoor games