TV Recommendations – September

I spent a lot of the summer holidays watching old series, like the Gilmore Girls and the X Files. I used to be a massive fan of the X Files, as I was quite a nerdy teenager, but then it got super weird and I left home to go to university and didn’t have Sky, so couldn’t watch it. I finally watched the last few series and I think it’s pretty good. However, it’s dated so much so I was pleased to have some new TV to watch.

TV Recommendations - September

[Nashville – Now TV || The Get Down – Netflix ||
Parks and Recreation – Amazon Prime || The Great British Bake Off – BBC One]

A friend first suggested I watch Nashville, when it first came out. I scoffed, but gave it a go. Now, I love it and was crushed to hear that it had been cancelled after this series. I’m hoping/may have imagined that it’s going to be picked up by someone like Netflix or Amazon, because it is brilliant! I never knew the world of country music was so cut throat or glamorous and I’m still surprised by how many of the cast wear cowboy boots! I love everything about the show, especially Rayna James, played by the awesome Connie Britton, who will always be Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights in my eyes! (Major girl crush!) I also have developed a love for country music since watching the show and have bought all the soundtracks so far and listened to a few other artists on Apple Radio. If you need something light hearted and dramatic at the same time, check this out.

Let me preempt this write up of the Get Down by saying I hate musicals. With a passion. That being said, I didn’t know this was a musical, and don’t see it as such. And it’s freakin’ amazing. We binged it over two nights and can’t wait for the second part to be released. It’s glorious and brilliant and worth a few hours of your time. Set in the 1970’s when New York was going through a really tough time, it charts the beginning of Hip Hop, which went on to dominate in the 80’s. It’s fantastic and the soundtrack is epic.

I saw the first few seasons of Parks and Recreation a few years ago, but the rest weren’t on Amazon, so I’ve been waiting patiently for them to appear, which, apart from the final series, they have. I love Parks and Rec. It reminds me the American Office, in that I want to work there. It’s such a funny show, in that there were many times when I did laugh out loud! The characters are brilliant and I love how they all come together to overcome pretty much anything, despite their differences. The fact that Leslie has such a cheerful, can-do attitude is so encouraging. I seriously need a ‘What Would Leslie Do?’ wristband for when things get tough!

Need a say anything about The Great British Bake Off? It is a classic show that never seems to get old, despite being in its 7th series. That’s quite impressive for a show with a simple format – Bake things, judge the things and get rid of someone. I love it when things go terribly wrong, like when someone uses salt instead of sugar and Paul Hollywood has to spit his food out! Or when angry people throw their bakes in the bin! And who hasn’t cried over their baking? I know I have. And it might be stupid, but we’ve all done it and most of just in the privacy of our own kitchens, when we didn’t have the glacial stare of Paul Hollywood, judging our every move. But then, neither did we have the warm embrace of Mel & Sue, or the kind words of Mary Berry to pick us up when the cake we baked was practically burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. True story. I hope they never stop making this show because it is brilliant.

Dog Walks in Somerset – Leigh Woods, Bristol

One of my favourite walks, partly because of the hill climb challenge and partly because you walk underneath the Clifton Suspension Bridge, was Leigh Woods and we only scratched the surface on our visit. I did want to walk across the bridge as well, but time was against us and we only had a short amount of time in Bristol.

Storage container art Clifton suspension bridgeRiver Avon in Bristol

We parked at Oldfield Place car park and headed towards the Avon Canal trail. One of the bridges we needed to walk across was closed for refurbishment so we had to walk up and onto the pavement that ran alongside a busy main road, which wasn’t particularly pleasant! But that was the only down side. While walking along the trail, you could really see lots of old Bristol and it was really impressive.

Clifton Rocks Railway Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol Early blackberries in BristolI had never seen the Clifton Suspension Bridge before and it is really amazing. We had planned to walk across it, but we ran out of time. I’d love to go back another time and really explore this part of Bristol. Just a little bit further on along the trail, there’s a turning to the left which is an entry point into Leigh Woods. It’s quite a steep climb, but it is worth it, as it is incredibly beautiful.

National Trust Leigh Wood Bristol Fungus in Leigh Wood

When you get to the top of the climb, there’s a map that shows a number of different routes you can take. There are also some events for children, as Leigh Woods is managed by the National Trust. We did part of walk to the viewpoint, so we could take a look at Bristol from up high. It was breathtaking!

View of Bristol Suspension Bridge View from Leigh WoodsIf you’re taking the dog with you, be aware that there are some adorable cattle there so make sure you keep your dog on the lead. We saw some people who didn’t and the dog went chasing and barking after the cattle. Not ideal really. You could easily spend the day here, as there are lots of lovely places for picnics and plenty of walks to enjoy. I’d love to go back and explore a bit more, as would Poppy!

Poppydog in Leigh Woods

The Walk: The walk to Leigh Woods is easy to do and away from busy traffic (although the bridge we needed to cross was closed so we had to divert by a busy main road, shared with cyclists.) When you get to the Leigh Woods entrance, there is a steep climb to the top. Make sure you wear good walking boots!
Cost: Completely free.
Car Park: We parked at Oldfield Place car park, which is free to park in for three hours.
Refreshments: Not that I noticed, but you’re in Bristol, so you’re probably a stones throw from something delicious.
Toilets: Again, not that I noticed.

Dog Walks in Somerset – Cheddar Gorge

Okay, before I get going on this post, I just need to get the following out of my system. I thought the Cheddar Gorge tourist attraction was awful. Partly, because it’s not really aimed at me or my situation, but also because it’s tacky & has spoilt a quaint village with overpriced hideousness. I’m sure that if you’re a kid you think it’s ace, but at my age, it’s awful and not worth the ticket price £20! (though I can reuse my ticket any time in the next 10 years. I won’t be doing that!) Once we bought out tickets (Poppydog went free), we headed down into a cave with a hideous audio tour. I hate audio tours. I can’t explain why, but I do. Needless to say, we didn’t spend long down in the cave. I could have lived without ever going down there to be honest. Not worth it in my opinion. I don’t think you need to buy a ticket to walk the Cheddar Gorge, as there are numerous ways you can access it without having to give up your precious money. (Can you tell I’m bitter about this?!)

View from Cheddar GorgeThe walk is awesome. Hard work, but awesome. We climbed the 200+ steps to get up to the cliff top walk and it’s a non-stop climb that, at times, feels like it is never going to end. (Can I just point out that I live in Oxfordshire, which is pretty flat on the whole?!) You don’t have to go very far before you realise that the views are pretty spectacular. The walk isn’t easy, as it’s fairly rocky so you have to keep an eye on where you’re walking.

The Cheddar Gorge Poppydog at Cheddar GorgeOnce we’d got to the top, we stopped for some lunch, which consisted of Tofurkey rolls, crisps and an apple. Lush! Poppy was ace walking the whole way up. She really enjoyed the smells and, as per usual, liked getting close to the edge of the cliff. I didn’t, so kept my distance! After lunch, we headed down towards the road. This was a pretty easy descent and we spotted some wild goats having a bit to eat too.

Cheddar Gorge goats Cheddar Gorge view Walking Chedder GorgeWhen you get down to the road, you have a choice. You can either walk along the road back to the hideous tourist attraction or cross the road and climb up the other side of the gorge. Having climbed a ridiculous number of flights already, common sense would probably say ‘just head back to the car’. But that’s not what we did! Powered by Tofurkey, we headed on to the other side of the road and started to climb the opposite side of the gorge. This wasn’t particularly easy. In fact, it was fairly savage. It’s a good job I didn’t know that worse was to come, as I would probably have just set up camp and move there to avoid walking up. It’s steep, uneven and very, very high. And I fell over.

Cheddar Gorge walk The Cheddar Gorge WalkThere are some great flowers on the gorge and quite a bit of livestock, which I always love seeing. The view was breathtaking the whole way. Then you get to the descent. I was really pleased to be heading back down (the map tells you it takes two hours. This is a lie!) The final descent is terrifying. Now, I have dodgy knees and going down hills can cause me pain and I didn’t take my walking pole/stick, so I did have to go pretty slowly. But that descent is a killer. It just goes on and on, using leg muscles you never knew you had! The ground is also quite tricky, with massive tree roots and loose stones. When you get to the end, you (almost) want to kiss the ground. You definitely want to sit down and eat cake.

While the challenge of the walk was awesome, I wouldn’t do it again, just because it was so brutal. However, it does link in with the West Mendip Way, which I would be interested in walking and there is a nature reserve, which looks a little bit easier on the knees. We didn’t go into any of the shops there, as it was mega busy so we just headed back to our wigwam for a snooze and some cake.

The Walk: Brutal. It looks us about three and a half hours but we didn’t go particularly fast, plus I’m slow on hills and I fell over. We also stopped for a picnic. Having said that, you won’t want to rush it because it’s pretty awesome.
Cost: It can be free, if you go up one of the paths from the road, but if you want to climb the steps like we did (don’t!), it’ll cost you £19.95 of your hard earned pounds.
Car Park: There’s quite a bit of parking at the Gorge costing £5, but there are also lots of areas where you can park for free. If you get there late in the day, this might be your only option.
Refreshments: There’s a Costa at the tourist bit (woohoo) and about a million tea rooms (slight exaggeration!)
Toilets: There are some at the Gorge but I didn’t notice any others about.

Vegan Food in Bristol

One of the things I was looking forward to, going to Bristol, was the food. I’ve followed Vegan Bristol for a while on Twitter and the food that they share on there is mouthwatering. There were two places I knew I wanted to visit: VX and Cafe Kino. VX is all about vegan junk food. And junk food is my favourite. They sell burgers, hotdogs and cakes galore. They also have a selection of vegan groceries, including the biggest variety of cheese I have ever seen!SSOV Bristol Vegan oreo milkshake Vx Classic burgerAfter a massive walk, we headed for VX. I had already decided on a classic burger with ketchup. What I didn’t know was that they also do milkshake – Vego bar and Oreo. As it had been over a year since my last milkshake, I ordered an oreo milkshake to wash down my burger. It was AMAZING! God I love milkshakes! Everything was spot on. The burger was tasty, came with tortilla chips, which had added a lovely bit of spice. I was pretty much in heaven and cannot wait to go back.

Vx Bristol Vegan food in Bristol Vegan cookie sandwich Vegan custard tart Vegan chocolate cakeAfter we ate, Phil and I did a bit of shopping, buying up cheese, tofurkey and squirty cream. All the basics! We also got some cakes to take away. We shared the custard tart, which was delicious, and the cookie sandwich, which was a bit too sugary for me. I also got a slice of the chocolate and peanut butter cake for the next day and it was immense! It was the perfect reward for walking Cheddar Gorge the next day. If anyone thinks vegan diets are dull & mega healthy, you need to get yourself to VX!

Cafe Kino Cafe Kino breakfastOn our last morning, we packed everything up and headed to Cafe Kino for breakfast. I’m always surprised that more cafes don’t seem to cater for vegans at brunch because how hard can it really be?! Look at this plate of deliciousness, all washed down with a brew. Cafe Kino is a cooperative and has sustainable food production and ethics at the heart of what it does. The food is locally sourced and is 100% vegan (they do have dairy milk for non-vegans to have in hot drinks). I ordered the Full Kino breakfast and it was fantastic. Phil had the small kino and had wanted a smoothie to go with it, but the blender was broken. I was gutted, because I wanted to sample their milkshakes. I saw on Twitter that they have a new one, so that’s good. The rest of their menu looks amazing and I’d love to go back to sample their salads. The cafe has a lovely feel and is a great spot to sit, chat, work or watch the world go by. They also have a Suspended Coffee jar on the counter, which is a great way of helping you do something small but kind for someone who needs it. Awesome 🙂

Both Cafe Kino and VX are dog friendly meaning Poppy was made to feel as welcome as we were. I was impressed by the options and standard of vegan food in Bristol. Oxford really needs to up its game.