Food and drink, Healthy living, reflection, Well-being

Going Cold Turkey

One month ago, on 16th December 2019, I went Cold Turkey on everything.  By everything I mean:

  • Alcohol
  • Processed meat and red meat
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Cake
  • Pastry
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate

Yes, I went Cold Turkey on anything ‘nice’ in the run up to Christmas, but with different degrees of success?

After 1 week I posted a picture of myself on Facebook.  I plan to post weekly then monthly photos of myself over the coming weeks and months, as much as anything as a form of measurement for myself as you how I am doing.  I don’t own a set of scales, so weight isn’t any indication of progress and anyway that’s not what the motivation for doing this is.

As I posted that first photo I had a range of responses including:  giving up everything would be just too boring; why would you give up everything that is nice; why not just over indulge and diet in January.  Here’s the thing, I had over indulged.  We went back to Bristol for the first two weeks of December and by the 15th December I was bedridden, exhausted, in pain, discomfort, unable to function.  Looking back I think I was also coming down with a bit of a bug, but even so, I was in no fit state to continue.  This is not new and this is not unusual; it is something I have managed for as long as I can remember.

Why am I giving up ‘nice’ things?

So, this is how it goes.  We get invited for an evening out.  The day of the evening out I have to sleep in the afternoon in order to have the sheer oomph to get through the evening.  Then I get ready, we go out and ‘sociable Steph’ arrives.  I drink, normally Prosecco or white wine and normally, two or three glasses – I don’t drink vast amounts because of how poorly it makes me. I eat the food: a starter, a main course and a dessert.  We may go on for a night cap after the meal.  Then we go home and go to bed.  Within the hour I am generally back up, feeling uncomfortable and ready to burst.  The discomfort grows and grows over the next few hours until all the food and drink vacates my body by any means at it’s disposal.  Then finally, I go to bed in the early hours of the morning and sleep.  As a consequence I do not function the following day, as I am sleep deprived and sore, my body aches from head to toe.  So, in fact, we have to set aside two days for me to go out for a meal with friends, one day to summon up the energy and one day to recover.  Most people chortle that we have to be home for my husband to have his afternoon nap – in reality I’m the one that does the napping – I’m the one that places limits on what we can do in a day.

Why, might you ask, do I put myself through this?  Because, by and large, this is what is expected.  Because this is what is considered normal.  Because I really don’t want to let people down.  Because, just for that moment in time I can join in.  Because sometimes it just becomes too hard to have to explain.

The problem is, when we went back to Bristol at the beginning of December we did this for 10 nights out of 19.  There weren’t enough ‘off’ days for me to actually recover.  So my body imploded, I was bedridden and I decided, enough was enough. 

A life within limits

Generally, this has been the picture of my life, I went to work, I put all the energy I had into going to work which meant at home I had nothing. I do blame having mumps as a child for leaving me with some fatigue issues.  Back in the 1970’s things like Chronic Fatigue didn’t exist, you just got on with life.   I also tend to avoid labels as to my mind, once you have a label your brain starts to think you are ill, and I don’t want to be going down that rabbit hole!  I have had pockets in my life when it wasn’t like this.  As a student, during which time I was tea-total I was fine, and everybody’s mate as I was a non-drinker in possession of a car!  I had another period of time between 2000 and 2007 when I lived in Stoke-on-Trent and socialised with many like minded people for whom alcohol was irrelevant.  I also exercised regularly and made sure I didn’t allow myself to get stressed, luckily I worked in an environment which was well managed.  I went to a nutritionist and ate a healthy, varied diet which excluded most ‘nice’ foods and I was happy – not 100% healthy but the closest I’ve ever been.

When I moved back to Bristol in 2009, I lost that all important support network, the job I went to was stressful and the school was badly run.  Consequently, I started to make poor choices regarding diet and health, I stopped exercising as regularly and over the years have become less and less like myself.  My social life also changed in Bristol and became more focussed around bars, eating and drinking – but my stressed self enjoyed it, it provided a welcome release from the grind of the day job.  But I was back to sleeping for most of the weekend.  Back to putting all my effort into other people, other things and being a transparent version of myself at home.

So, to December 2019.  Finally I woke up.  Four years ago I gave up work to spend time with my husband, to do our retirement thing, to travel and spend quality time together.  But we haven’t been doing that.  In many respects, and on bad days, my husband has essentially become my carer.  He is the one that gathers me up after we have been out.  The one who has had his sleep disturbed because I’ve been ill throughout the night.  The one that makes all the meals and tries so very hard to make sure they are as healthy as they can be.  The one that turns a blind eye to the messiness of our home because he understands that I just don’t have the energy to tidy up.  The one who does the washing, the ironing, doing as much of the housework that he possibly can, just so that I don’t have to.  The one that pushes me out of the door to exercise as he knows that although I am exhausted it will help me later on in the day.  The one who sits quietly and reads while I sleep during the day, all so that I can go out in the evening and be sociable, to have a drink or two, share a meal and to behave ‘normally’.  

What next?

I don’t want that life anymore.  I want to have the energy to enjoy time with my husband.  I’m tired of using all my energy on other people rather than my marriage. I want to be able to exercise when I’d like, not on the odd day when I actually feel well enough to bother.  I want to go to bed safe in the knowledge that I won’t actually be ill throughout the night.  I know this works, I’ve done it in the past.  I know that eating healthily, and making the best choices I can will enable me to function on a day to day basis.  I owe it to my husband and our retirement to give this my everything as I am tired of missing out on days and opportunities with him to appease others.

It took a good two weeks for me to recover any sense of equilibrium after going cold turkey.  For some reason that I can’t explain on January 1st, 2020, I decided to have a glass of wine.  Maybe because our New Year’s Eve didn’t happen as husband had proper flu.  Maybe it was just because I wanted to see what might happen if I did have that one glass of wine with lunch out with my friend.  It was tragic!  I lost two days as a consequence of that one glass of wine.

I’ve not been perfect this month and I wasn’t successful in giving up sweet treats.  There has been so much chocolate in the house and a friend of ours made us the most beautiful Christmas Cake that just had to be eaten.  I am writing this last part of the blog on the plane from Faro to Bristol, exactly one month from the day I went cold turkey.  My plan for this month is to tackle the sugary snacks and the desserts when we go out for meals.  Quite often in Albufeira, restaurants offer an all in price for 3 courses and it seems a shame not to have the ‘free’ dessert.  I am ready to stop eating them, ready to try cutting them out and see what the effect is.  I think this is my alcohol, I know I am really going to struggle with this, but I have to try.

Food and drink, Healthy living

Partied Out…..

… and it’s still over a week until Christmas.

I once worked with a chap who turned vegetarian at Christmas.  Not because of some great ideological turnaround, but because he just ate far too much meat and couldn’t face eating it ever again.  I think I might have arrived at that point.  I may manage some chicken, and some fish, but red meat is definitely out.  Joined by cheese and wine.  If I never eat red meat or cheese, or drink Prosecco or wine again, I will be very happy!

How has this state of affairs come about?  This year, rather than spending a chunk of time in Bristol during Autumn, we decided to split it into two smaller chunks, one at the end of October, during which we went to a wedding, and another in early December to provide us change to visit friends and family in the run up to Christmas.   Don’t get me wrong, it’s been lovely to catch up with everyone – we didn’t manage to fit everyone in that we wanted to see, but the endless cycles of dinners has taken it’s toll.  

shallow focus of white icing covered cake on white ceramic plate
Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on Pexels.com

I’m not a big drinker – maybe one or two glasses of wine with a meal – but even that is too much to face.  I am, however, a dessert and cake eater, I’m one of those people with a pudding stomach, yet I can’t face another dessert this side of Christmas!  I don’t even think I can face my beloved Mousse de Chocolat when we are back in  Portugal.

It got me thinking about the difference in food between Bristol and Portugal.  I’ve tried, I swear I’ve tried, to eat as healthily as I can when we’ve been in restaurants.  I rarely order meals that involve chips only had one turkey dinner (which was a belter at the Lazy Trout at Meerbrook), but it’s the sauces.  I had Seabass at Alton Marina in Stone which was just devine – but it came with a ratatouille based sauce.  At Cote’s in Quakers Friars Bristol I had salmon, again divine, but again with a ratatouille sauce.  Everything comes with a sauce and I like plain!  Portugal plain!  Where the fish is the star of the plate! 

In light of recent, over eating events, I am also going to try introducing a 12 hour fast.  I first heard about this on Rangan Chattergee’s, podcast ‘Feel Better, Live More’ with Professor Satchin Panda.  If I think back to my childhood ‘tea’ was on the table at 5.00pm – primarily due to evening activities which my sister and I took part in which required us to be back out by 6.00pm.  After that the kitchen closed. We weren’t the sort of family that did supper, a milky drink before bed but that was it.  Occasionally we’d have a biscuit or two in the evening, but that largely depended on how recently the food shop had been done!  Breakfast was usually about 7.00am, so that meant we’d ‘fasted’ for up to 14 hours between meals.  Apparently this is good as it allows your body to digest the food properly, before you go to bed and stops the digestive problems that come with eating too late into the evening.  Outside of that 12 hour window, you still eat normally – it’s just that the long break between dinner and breakfast helps the body along.

I’ve also googled steps you can take to minimise the effects of over-indulgence.  According to US News the best ways to manage a food hangover are

  • Fill up on water and other clear liquids.  I know I don’t drink enough water and am trying really hard to drink more water.  I’ve added some peppermint oil to the water too, hoping that will get my system moving more quickly.
  • Eat healthy meals, avoid missing meals and try to get back onto an even keel as quickly as possible.  Getting back to Portugal will help with this as the food is far more plain.  Husband is also a superstar at cooking meals that will make my insides smile!
  • Eat fruit and vegetables; increase your fibre intake.  Again, I know I fall short here, particularly with vegetables
  • Include some exercise – don’t go mad but introduce some exercise to get digestion moving.
  • Think about habits.  This is key for me.  To think about what habits led to the situation in the first place and identify things you would like to change.  What I’d most like to change is my lack of will power, how easily I give in when people ask if I’d like a Prosecco, or if we’re having dessert.  I have got to start doing what suits me, not other people.

I cannot quite explain just how bad I have been feeling, I felt death was inevitable, or at the very least my stomach might explode.  I slept for an entire day as I was certain I had flu coming, I had shakes and I ached from head to toe.  Whilst I have tried to eat as well as possible in restaurants, it’s been the habit of eating extra bits that have made the situation worse.  The odd chocolate during the day from the tin in the middle of the coffee table, the odd chocolate chunk shortbread from Starbucks, the odd pastry from a bakery because I’m only here for a couple of weeks, the odd desert with meals when we have been out.  All in all, it probably amounts to eating fairly badly, between meals, for the past two weeks.  This is the habit that needs to stop, especially as I already know that white flour in particular makes me feel fairly lousy.  

close up of salad in plate
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

I’m not going to bother with a plan.  I’m pretty rubbish at making and keeping to plans – I always forget to look at them.  I am equally bad at tracking food too! I’m just going to take each day as it comes and try to do the best that I can.  But in the short term I am going to aim for:

  • Avoiding alcoholic drinks
  • Avoiding needless cakes and chocolate
  • Avoiding red meat
  • Avoiding cheese

I’m not saying I will never have these things again, I’m not going to go mad and exclude things for ever, but I’m going to try my very best to take a break from them and see how it affects my health and overall wellbeing.  At the moment the mere thought of eating any of the above makes me nauseous, but either way, I really cannot go on feeling quite as bad as I do at this moment in time!  I don’t own any scales so I can’t monitor any weight loss, so it will all be based on feeling – how I look, how I feel, the energy I have and how I fit into my clothes.  If at the end of the day I can give myself a green tick in each of the 4 areas above then I’ll consider it a good day.  Once I have mastered those I might think about adding other things in, or re-introducing them to see what the effects are.  

Bristol, Food and drink, Friends, Happiness, Portugal

Marvellous May

What a month it turned out to be!  It’s absolutely whizzed by and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

At the start of the year I signed up to Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project Experience and have been half heartedly following it through.  The theme for April was friends – and I kind of poo-pooed it as ‘not-for-me’.  During May, however, that came back to haunt me in a big way! It’s not only Gretchen Rubin that advocates friendships, there’s a lot of research that supports the view that friendships are key – especially real life in person friendships, not the social media kind.

I suppose, if I’m honest, that I’ve largely spurned friendships in the past, thinking I’m not really the sort of person people would want to spend time with, which is largely a result of anxiety, but one thing that this month has proven is I have friends in abundance and my thoughts on the matter have been completed incorrect.

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My marvellous month started on May 1st with lunch in Albufeira.  Just my friend and I.  She is my sort of mate – the sort that you know is there for you, but you don’t have to check in every day.  The sort that really doesn’t care what you turn up in as the point of the lunch is the talking and the laughter, not the colour of your lipstick or whose shoes you are wearing.  In a way that makes it even better, because when we do go out for lunch we have loads to catch up on and we laugh from start to finish.  We also went out with our husbands for a beautiful lunch next to the old marina in Albufeira.  My friend and I have been several times without husbands who decided they were missing a trick.  Having been with us they now understand how we can take 4 hours over lunch!

Then there was the Wine Festival which takes place during the first weekend of May every year in Albufeira.  We’ve always been away for it in the past, so this was our first attempt!  I tried really very hard to be sensible about it – I really wanted to find a nice Rose that I could drink – rather than Casal Mendes or .  What I did discover was that there are lots of beautiful wines available in Portugal, so why the restaurants all serve the same ones, I don’t know.  I also learned that after tasting a few wines they all merge into one, making a choice very difficult.

This was closely followed by a walk around Faro with friends from my first teaching post in Staffordshire.  I’ve done this walk before and it’s just perfect for showing people a taste of Portugal in a relatively short space of time.  It was a fabulous morning walking in the sun, catching up on news and finished off with a pastel da nata with coffee at the O Seu Cafe.  I always find it very peculiar when I see friends in Portugal – so to have three of them all at once was a real treat.

Faro walking tour

Prior to our return to Bristol we went out for dinner with a group of friends we have met in Portugal – some expats and some who holiday regularly in Albufeira.  Over the years we have been spending time in Portugal, we have made some really lovely friendships and very much look forward to people coming out to visit.  We do also travel the length of the country to return the visits when we are in the UK, so we are off to Burnley in July.

It’s always lovely returning to Bristol as it provides us with an opportunity to catch up, which generally happens on a Friday evening at our not so local pub.  At the start of the football season we’d had a friendly wager on how high up the Championship league table Bristol City would finish.  Our first Friday home was the presentation evening which was taken very seriously, complete with food, speeches and awards.  This is what I would call typically silly British behaviour – but it’s the sort of banter that makes an evening and a friendship.

We’ve been out for dinner, with yet another couple that we love spending time with, to a superb restaurant in Bristol, Pasta Loco, one of the many independent restaurants that are now so popular across the city.  We’d been wanting to go here for a long time and were always too late to book – this time I booked three months in advance and it didn’t disappoint, providing yet another evening of good food, good wine and amazing company.

And finally!  The wedding!  The mother of the bride was one of my friends that had visited Portugal earlier in the month.  I’ve seen her 3 times in 2 months, in 3 entirely different locations, and it’s been wonderful.  Whenever I go back home, the bride and her mother are always the first people I contact to arrange a time to catch up.  Each time, it’s like the months since the last time we met up haven’t mattered, we just carry on from where we left off.  I can honestly say that this is the best wedding I have been to – if ever there was a wedding you wanted to be at – this was the one.  Everything about it was just stunning – it was true to the bride and her husband and it was perfect.  It was held in a place that was special to the bride and it just oozed love in a way I have never experienced at a wedding before.  From start to finish, it was about the love of two people (and their daughter) – and that shone through every moment of the day.  It was a real honour to have been invited to share in the day.

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In amongst all this there have been so many other things I have done with good friends.  I went shopping, I’ve been for coffees, I’ve been for dinners, for lunches, walked alongside the River Avon, been along to watch Take That and danced the night away.  I even popped into school in Uttoxeter on the day prior to the wedding.  In the past I wouldn’t have done this, thinking there would be no-one who would be interested in seeing me.  This time I went in and spent a lovely hour catching  up with old colleagues – followed by a Saturday morning drinking coffee in a sunny garden wondering where 10 years had disappeared to.

I am incredibly fortunate and so very grateful to have such a wide circle of lovely, loving and loyal friends around me – of all ages and inclinations.  I am also so very grateful that I have finally woken up to appreciate what is there in front of me and to take the opportunities to spend time with friends that I feel in the past I have either taken for granted or just plain ignored.  The research is correct – real life friendships matter.  It’s a long time since I have laughed so much in the company of good friends and I look forward to many more happy times.

 

 

Albufeira, Bristol, Food and drink, Portugal

Compare and Contrast

I am in the very fortunate position of spending my life living in two amazing places; Albufeira in Portugal and Bristol, United Kingdom.

We are often asked how it is we can bear to live in such a busy place as the centre of Old Town in Albufeira, especially as it gets busier in the summer months.  It gets louder – with music from the bars going on into the early hours of the morning.  There is more traffic and there are way more people.  Yes, our home is in the middle of all of this, but it’s set back on a little side street, away from the hustle and bustle – so we are sort of in the midst of things, but also out of it, on a small one way street that leads to nowhere.  We consider it relatively quiet, especially when you compare it to our home in Bristol.

Rua Henrique Calado

You couldn’t really get more of a contrast.  We have made our home right in the centre of town, in about as busy a spot as you could probably find.  Buses run all day and also through the night.  We are surrounded by office blocks and student accommodation and often when we are awake in the night are treated to the most amazing choirs.  Most of us have belonged to such a choir at some point in our time – the choir made up of people on their way home from the pub, confident in the knowledge that they are the best singers EVER!  We’ve had Oasis, Aha, The Three Tenors, you name it, we’ve probably heard it and each time, you just can’t help but smile!

In Albufeira we have the beaches.  One right on our doorstep, but then other smaller, secluded beaches all along the coast.  We have the changing colours of the sea, the differences in the waves and the tides, every day is a different view – something will have changed.  When the tourists arrive all with their different coloured beach umbrellas it brings a real sense of excitement to the town, particularly at the beginning of the season.  Then in Bristol we have the harbourside.  So busy and bustling, with the brightly coloured boats, floating happily besides great boats such as the Matthew and the SS Great Britain.  We have Gromits, Gorillas and Shaun the Sheep standing to attention, there is even a crocheted crocodile in homage to the crocodile of Bristol that apparently makes his home in the harbour!

 

In both locations you have the old next to the new.  One of my favourites in Bristol is the view of the Church of St John on the wall, part of the original old city walls, right next to iconic pieces of street art, ‘Where the Wall’ and ‘The Vandal’.  Obviously we also have Banksy.  So much so that I don’t even notice them anymore – they are just part and parcel of every day life.  Clearly not in the same league, but in Albufeira several of the electricity boxes have been covered with pieces of street art which reflect the heritage of the town.  Our apartment sits within the original city walls, yet within 5 minutes you are right in the centre of the newer square, and all of the bars and restaurants.  One of my favourite times of year in Albufeira is Easter.  It’s still very much a religious festival in Portugal with processions all across the Easter weekend – through the hoards of tourists there to enjoy the sun.

And as for food!  Both places provide a huge variety of cuisine that vary in Italian, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese, Vegan, Tapas.  In Bristol we have the added benefit of street food, that really does cover every nationality, including Caribbean.  In Albufeira if you dig deeply enough – well actually – not all that deeply at all, just leave the main tourist areas you can find some outstanding food at reasonable prices.  You might not get a wide choice, but the quality is something else.  Likewise in Bristol, there are just some amazing restaurants, popping up all over the place, some of which are housed in small cargo sheds.  In Bristol it’s really hard to find middle of the the road chain restaurants, we are a picky lot and like our food to be high quality and independent and we will pay.  Equally in Portugal – you can find the middle of the road, microwaved meals, but walk around the back streets and you will find so much more, fantastic little independent restaurants, run by families who are so very enthusiastic about their food and your experience with them really matters.

So, all in all, the two places aren’t all that different – barring the weather obviously!  I’m incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to experience the contrasts.

 

Bristol, Food and drink

Food of two cities – Part 1: Bristol

This past week we had a holiday in Bristol.  It’s somewhat unusual to be able to visit your home town and sample aspects of it in the way a tourist might.  As we were only stopping for a week we had several appointments and also a number of friends and family to meet up with.  As a consequence, there was little point in buying vast amounts of food which may not have been eaten and so instead, we took the opportunity to sample some of the food offerings on our doorstep – some old, some new, some independent, some chains.  It made me realise that if you are genuinely a visitor to Bristol the choice of food options is immense and it would be hard to choose.  If you don’t know anything about the food market in Bristol, it is thriving and seemingly bucking a national trend.  The One Show had a piece recently about how chain food restaurants are closing, as the bubble has burst, and the same has to be said for Bristol – Jamie’s Italian and Byron Burger have both recently closed – others seem to be struggling.  But as with many cities, take a short walk off the main streets and out of the shopping centres and you will find numerous small independent restaurants offering a huge range of amazing food choices.

I’ve written about our experiences in the order we visited them.

  1. Burger Theory, St Stephen’s Street Bristol, local independent.  This is one of our favourite go-to restaurants and was perfect for lunch just after we had arrived back in Bristol. It does what it says on the tin and it does it very well.  Burger Theory began life as a …. at festivals and has now opened several restaurants.  All of its ingredients are sourced locally and they can tell you exactly which farm the meat and vegetables originate from.  This time I noticed the wall which names all those people who crowd-funded them to enable them to take the step from festival truck to restaurant.  I thought this was a lovely touch.  The burgers were amazing, perfectly cooked – we sat next to two young lads who were ‘proper starving’ but who were well replenished by the sheriff burger, which was equally popular with husband.  In my personal opinion they should bottle and sell their home made pickles as they far exceed the quality you can find in any shop!  I genuinely don’t think you can go wrong at Burger Theory.
  2. IMG_2303Eat a Pitta, St Nicholas Market, local independent.  If you haven’t been then St Nic’s market is well worth a visit.  There is a wide range of street food available here, including Carribbean, Moroccan, Crepes, Portuguese and a cake stall to die for!  On a Tuesday and Friday there are further food choices outside the market and it is usually heaving. I am in awe of how much food they can fit into one small container at Eat a Pitta!  A full range of salads, at least 4 freshly cooked falafel and a variety of sauces.  There is always a queue at this stand as it represents great value for money, although the price had gone up 50 pence since the last time I visited.  Whilst I appreciate that costs have risen recently I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s because they have recently opened more branches across the town and this is more a reflection of the price increase.  Despite that, still a winner for lunch!
  3. Pasta Ripiena, St Stephen’s Street Bristol, local independent.  This is the second restaurant opened by the owners of Pasta Loco on Cotham Brow which was named as Bristols best restaurant by Food52 as part of the piece shown on the One Show.  We love Pasta Loco and have been going since it opened, so were thrilled to find out that there would be another version opening just along the way from our home.  It did not disappoint.  Again, a very small restaurant and you have to book well in advance.  Husband and I both had the lamb starter which was just amazing.  We actually managed a dessert and shared the pistachio posset and chocolate torte.  It was a real joy to eat everything, the waitress was very knowledgeable and was very keen to hear our feedback – she was clearly delighted that we had enjoyed ourselves so much.  We will definitely be making a visit to Pasta Ripiena a priority on our return.
  4. New Emperor’s Court, Clifton Village, local independent.  This is a well known Chinese restaurant in the local area, and the only one in Clifton Village – which I think is part of the problem. We’ve been using this restaurant both to eat in and as a take away for many years and it’s reputation was well deserved.  In the past 18 months, however, the restaurant has changed hands and I have to say that I feel that the new owners are riding on the reputation that the restaurant has and aren’t necessarily delivering the same standard of service as the previous owners.  We regularly meet with friends on a Friday evening and choose the take-away option as it is easier when child care is a consideration.  Our order was placed at 7:30 – hopeful of an 8:15 collection.  To be fair, we were warned that it was busy and would be closer to 8:30.  Our order was eventually ready 90 minutes after the order was placed.  It was good, especially the chilli squid, and the standard of the food has improved since the new owners originally took over, but at the end of the day a Chinese takeaway is a Chinese takeaway and a 90 minute wait just isn’t acceptable.
  5. Sunday saw us at Coal Grill and Bar in Cabot Circus.  We don’t normally go to chain restaurants, this one is surprisingly good.  It does what it says on the tin and is of a decent and consistent standard.  The menu is varied and offers a good choice.  We went along with friends and had a really good evening.  Being a Sunday evening it was quite quiet and the standard of service was excellent – I’ve never been there when it is busy, and can imagine it’s a very different proposition at busier times.
  6. Our final meal of our week was lunch at Loch Fyne Sea Food and Grill – a second chain restaurant – but we normally enjoy it.  Again, being lunch time it was relatively quiet.  As with Coal it does what it says on the tin and does it well.  We opted for the smoked salmon starter followed by fish and chips – as we were back off to Portugal later in the day, this was our last opportunity for fish and chips for a few weeks.  Well, that and we had a voucher for 30% off our meal!  The service was fantastic, as was the quality of the food.

One thing that does stand out is that there is so much more to write about with the independent restaurants.  Besides the different food choices that they offer, the also provide a different dining experience – one that is probably more in-keeping with Bristol that the chain restaurants can offer.  Whilst I was happy with the meals at both of the chain restaurants neither really provided an experience beyond that which you would find in any other chain restaurant in the high street.  The smaller independent restaurants that we love so much in Bristol all seem to offer something more – it is clear that the waitresses and chefs really love the food that they are preparing and are proud of what they are serving.  They have more of an interest in their food and it feels like more of an interest in the experience they are providing their customers.

Obviously, this just represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of food offerings in Bristol.  There is so much to experience and enjoy here that it is impossible to write about it all.

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