I believe I can fly : Bristol Balloon Fiesta

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If you tell people you live in UK or England, chances are that you will hear the traditional list of cliche used to depict this part of the world :

  • The bad weather and the rain ( .. well – not too far from reality)
  • The wrong legend that British food is not good and limited to Fish & Chips, Roast beef. UK actually has a lot of great food and recipes and I would need a full post to talk about all of them.

UK is also too often “reduced” to :

  • The city of London, Edinburgh, Manchester / Liverpool  if you are a fan of football
  • Queen Elizabeth, Kate Middleton, Harry and William and all the Royal family
  • Home of Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Shakespeare … you name it

All this to say that in the South West of England, there is a lovely city called Bristol which has A LOT to offer to put an end to the cliche people may have about England ( besides the rain thing … Yes – I must admit that quite often, it is pouring in Bristol).

Bristol is home to a great arts and overall culture scene, lovely food, cute coffee shops and summer/ spring festivals. From May until September, when the nice days kick-in, you will be able to find a festival pretty much every week-end. One that I particularly enjoy is the Bristol Balloon Fiesta that happens every year in August, in Ashton Court*. If you like Hot Air Balloon or want to spend a nice week-end with family and friends, this festival is for you, so make sure to spend few hours there if you are around.

What is the Bristol Balloon Fiesta?

It is an international Festival, featuring several hundreds of flights of Hot Air Balloons, and welcoming thousands of visitors over 3 days. On top of the balloons flights, the festival features 2 night glows, and a firework on the Saturday night. ( See the video of the night glow)

There is also a Fairground with lots of attractions for kids and adults. You will find wine and local food stands, local music talents. Long story short, everyone should be able to find attractions to be entertained during this festival.

The Bristol Balloon Fiesta is free and open to public.

It goes without saying that if you want to fly during the Balloon Fiesta, you would have to book in advance your flight. Note that prices to fly during this event are (for me) excruciatingly high compared to the prices that are practiced the rest of the year.

For me the best way to enjoy this festival is to go to Ashton Court in the mid-afternoon on Saturday, to enjoy a nice picnic with friends until the night kicks in, so you can see the night glows and the firework.

My advice if you want to go to the Balloon Fiesta :

Access by car is NOT recommended. There will be hundreds of cars and if you want to avoid being stuck for 2 hours to do less than 3 kms… avoid taking the car ( especially to leave after the firework, I REALLY do not recommend it.) There are buses services arranged for the event, and if you can come by foot – it is for me the best option.

Be prepared to see A LOT of people around. If you are with kids, or buggies : this may be a bit of a challenge. However, you do not need to go to Ashton Court itself if you want to see the shows or the balloons flying. You can have a great view from Clifton, or the White Lion Terrace  – so depending on your situation and whether you like crowds or not so much – you have several options available to you so you can enjoy this event.

The success of this event relies a lot on the weather:

  • If there is too much wind : balloons will not fly. As the whole point of this festival is to see those hundreds of balloons flying … it can be a bit of a non-event if they are to stay on the ground.
  • If it is rainy, the picnic and event in the park can be a bit challenging ( but not impossible) : back to 2014, it rained pretty much the whole afternoon and night but we were still able to see the night glows and the firework. We were blessed with a nice and dry summer in 2015 and the event was simply great.

Bring cash if you want to buy food or drinks ( but you can also bring your own picnic) , take sunscreen with you : when the sun kicks in, it can be quite strong and you could end up with a nice sunburn if you are not well prepared.

I really like this Festival because for 3 days you will see the Bristol sky full of balloons, which I found very pleasant and “romantic”. I also love to get to the festival on the Saturday afternoon to picnic with my friends  : it is a great moment to be all together, catch up and chill … one of the many little, simple pleasures in life.

If you need any additional reasons to go to Bristol  :

  • The street artist Banksy is said to be from Bristol : you can find a lot of his famous graffiti all over the city, including Naked Man,Mild Mild West, Girl with the Pierced Eardrum … (You can even see more if you walk around or go for the Banksy Tour organized by the city)
  • Bristol is the Europe Green Capital for 2015
  • We have amazing coffee bars, such as Brew, Bristol Coffee House, Spicer & Cole…
  • There are many lovely food places and restaurants which will put an end to the legend saying that UK food is not good or limited to roast beef, fish & chips, jelly puddings …
  • The great singer George Ezra is said to have studied and lived in Bristol for a while,

Ashton Court* :  

Ashton Court is a huge park (850 acres), with gardens, a mansion and many grasslands. There, you can walk, bike (but again I do not recommend you bike during the Balloon Fiesta), bring the kids over to play and enjoy outdoors.There is no admission fee to enter the park (But you may have to pay to take part to events organized at Ashton Court) There is a parking – it costs £1.20 per vehicle per day.

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My love letter to London

Some encounters can change a lifetime, whether it is a person, a place, an experience. London troubled my senses and will be forever part of my memories. But the same way it can take time for some friendship or love stories to take shape and reach a “serious stage”, the way I feel about London did not happen effortlessly.

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The first time I came to London, I was around 12. Our English teacher was brave enough to embark across the Channel with a group of over excited teenagers. What I remember from this visit was: the 99 ice creams, Top Shop from Oxford Street, and the Speakers corner in Hyde Park. I cannot recall if the superficiality of my memories was due to a lack of attention (too busy flirting at the back of the bus), or if it is because we only spent half a day in the city. I do not think one would be able to clarify this mystery but I can live with it. 🙂

9 years after this expedition, my mum and family offered me a 5 days trip to London. I will always recall I cried when opening the envelop and founding about the present.

London

This second trip to London was great. Despite being panicked at the idea of speaking English with TRUE native speakers, I very much enjoyed the city and to finally explore it as it should be: Feeling the magic of Covent Garden, feeding squirrels in Hyde Park, walking in the colourful streets of Camden town and getting lost in Stable Market. Going to check Harrods’, stopping at Notting Hill gate, walking along the mall to see Westminster, saying hi to Big Ben, singing “Dancing Queen” during the Mama Mia show in Leicester Square… At that point I did not know this would be the beginning of an everlasting passion for this city.

3 years later, I was given the opportunity to work and live in London. This time was the one.

London is the city where I fell truly madly deeply in love, and in that same city, I also learnt that love and growing up hurt even more than what an early 20’s year old would think,

London is the city where people in the Tube do not give you the death look if you stumble upon them as you lose balance when the train moves,

London is the city where people know how to party hard: dancing all night, laughing out loud, drinking too much, feeling alive,

London is a city where streets are noisy, where people regroup in front of the pubs as soon as nice days are back, drinking Pimm’s from time to time,

London is city where you can hear English spoken with 10 different accents, making it an international but somehow exotic place to hang out,

London is the city where buses are red, cabs are black, and parks yellow when daffodils suddenly spring in April…

London is a city where being different can set itself as a “way of life, “

London is the city where one still feel the effervescence of the 70’s and 80’s when rock bands were true ambassadors of sex drugs and rock’n roll…

London is the only city that makes my heart beats faster as soon as I my feet touch its ground,

London is a city that made me grow up, the city which taught me what love and life are about,

London rocked my life. London is a king of magic.There can be only one…

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Credit and copy rights for the pictures are mine,

In Parma : A lovely Italian restaurant in London … A must try!

In parma

Dear readers… As I explained in my first post, the purpose if my blog is to share the cool places I have been to so you can enjoy them as well. Note that is probably a subjective opinion as tastes vary amongst people. However, whenever possible I will provide feedback and review from third parties as it is always good to hear from different sources. Regarding the restaurant I am about to introduce, the newspapers reviews are included in the website.

For those of you who know me, over the last months I had the luck to live in London and to go to very nice little restaurants… Today, I would like to talk about one that I particularly loved: In Parma by Food Roots.

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If you are looking for a nice moment, with quality products and wonderful hosts: this place is for you. This Italian restaurant is a little gem, and offer a wide range of Italian products, ranging from cured meat (I recommend the Culatello from Zibello which represents the finest Italian charcuterie), cheeses and other traditional foods such as polenta, homemade lasagna. For those who still have space for deserts, give it a try, they are lovely too!

There are 2 main reasons I am so into this place: the team is passionate about what they do and the food quality is undeniably there! Christian and his team will proudly teach you the values they promote at In Parma.

The concept of this place is to offer high quality products and respect the tradition and “savoir faire” of local producers. The meats and cheeses you will find there have a double European label: PDO (protected designation of origin), PGI (protected geographical indication) that were awarded by the European Commission. This certifies the area and methods of production and designates them as rare and artisanal food. Believe me, when products are “home-made” and produced according to the traditional know-how, it is real bliss. Just smell and taste the food and you will see what I am talking about, let your five senses guide you…

Lambrusco

Besides the food, I also like the atmosphere of the restaurant: the room is perfectly sized so you can feel cozy and as if you were “at home” sharing a nice dinner with a group of friends. Just have a look at the Facebook page of In Parma and you will see what I am talking about, the pictures speak for themselves.

Room

Last but not least, Christian is a fan of Brazil…As original as it can be for an Italian restaurant, the staff regularly organizes bossa nova nights (I let you check the website if you want to get further info. Look into Events)

In a nutshell, whether you are a foodie, an Italian restaurant aficionado, a fan of Brazil music, just come and give it a try!

PS 1: For those of you who are in a rush, you can even can come and get some of their fabulous take-away products.

PS 2: I included the link to the website, so you can check by yourself!

Hope to read some of your feedback!

Address:
In Parma by Food Roots
10 Charlotte St, London, Greater
W1T 1SH, London – United Kingdom

Phone: +44 20 8127 4277
http://www.inparma.co.uk/

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday : 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, 6:00–11:30 pm
Saturday 1:00–4:00 pm, 6:00–11:30 pm
Sunday Closed

Reservations: toptable.co.uk

The pictures come from the Facebook page from In Parma.