All I want for Christmas is you

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes …

The count down until Christmas has definitely started, however the Christmas-y mood I usually sink in from December 1st up until the Christmas eve has not yet kicked-in. Not sure if this is because weather is still rather warm  or because I am “getting used to” it. I am kind of a “Christmas Veteran” about to celebrate my 29th 🙂

I can really not blame it on the Brits for not making efforts to have us prepared for Christmas: straight after Halloween, the witches hats, spooky skeletons and spider webs were replaced by snow flakes, red curtains and Santa Claus in pretty much every stores. Even at my local Starbucks … except that they forgot a tiny detail – they were still playing Bob Marley instead of the traditional Jingle Bells and other Deck the halls – creating a nice exotic atmosphere. 

Soon after the decorations come the usual Christmas rituals. 

Christmas is that time of the year when: 

  • People (including seasoned adults and senior colleagues from the office ) rush to buy an Advent calendar and would then carefully and diligently eat the daily chocolate that get them closer to “the D-day. So far, I spotted many Kinder fans and a small community of Hotel du Chocolat connoisseurs (So chic) 

  • There is an “unofficial” competition at the office as to who would have the kitchiest Christmas ornament at their desk. (Some ending up exceeding expectations.) 

  • All sorts of parties are thrown, ranging from the Ugly Christmas sweaters day; Christmas parties; Secret Santa … 

  • You can – with no guilt – spend your full week-ends watching (for the 10th time) the traditional Christmas movies, namely : Notting Hill, Love Actually, Bridget Jones – while drinking hot chocolate (with a dash of Baileys) and going for binge ice-cream “tasting” 

  • Some privileged members of the “I always do my Christmas shopping at the last moment – despite saying each year : Next time I will start earlier” group – end up spending the 2 last week ends before D-day, looking for the perfect gift. 

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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.

Un charmant restaurant Italien sur Londres…

In parma

Chers lecteurs ! Dans mon premier billet j’expliquais que le but de mon blog était de partager avec vous les bonnes adresses et les endroits qui m’ont charmée pour que vous puissiez en profiter. Evidemment cela n’engage que moi car les goûts varient pour chacun d’entre nous. Dans la mesure du possible, je vous communiquerai des liens avec les revues de tierces personnes pour que vous ayez la vision plus objective possible. Le restaurant que je vais vous présenter aujourd’hui a incorporé les critiques des journaux anglais sur son site internet. Vous pouvez cependant consulter des avis supplémentaires sur Trip Advisor par exemple.

Pour ceux qui me connaissent, j’ai eu la chance de travailler à Londres pendant 4 mois cette année. Durant ce séjour, j’ai découvert une petite perle : le restaurant italien In Parma by Food Roots.

In Parma_Restaurant Window

In Parma est un restaurant qui se distingue de bien des autres « italiens » puisque vous ne trouverez pas de pizzas au menu  En revanche, In Parma offre une impressionnante variété de charcuterie (je recommande le jambon Culatello de Zibello : le nec plus ultra de la charcuterie italienne), de fromages et autres plats traditionnels tels que la polenta ou les lasagnes maison. Pour ceux qui ont encore un petit creux après tout ça, essayez les desserts, ils ne sont pas mal non plus !

Lambrusco

J’ai eu un véritable coup de cœur pour cet endroit car Christian et son équipe sont passionnés par leur métier et vous expliquent avec fierté l’origine des produits et les valeurs qu’ils défendent en tant que gardiens du patrimoine culinaire italien. Le fer de lance d’In Parma c’est la défense des produits du terroir et du savoir-faire local (Italien). La charcuterie et les fromages servis ont un double label Européen : AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée) et IGP (Indication géographique protégée) qui garantissent le respect des procédés de fabrication, défendent les appellations d’origine, les lieux de production et offrent une possibilité de déterminer l’origine du produit. Grâce à ces labels, vous avez la certitude de déguster des produits qui respectent le savoir-faire traditionnel. Vous le sentirez dès la première bouchée !

L’ambiance des lieux m’a également séduite: In Parma est un petit restaurant convivial où vous vous sentirez tout de suite à l’aise, quasiment comme si vous étiez en train de diner avec des amis à la maison : sans prétentions ni chichis… Jetez un œil à la page Facebook du restaurant, il y a pas mal de photos qui vous permettrons de voir le restau.

Room

Enfin, aussi exotique que cela puisse paraitre, Christian est fan du Brésil, et organise régulièrement des soirées Bossa Nova ! (Allez faire un tour sur le site dans la catégorie Events.)

Alors, si vous êtes féru des produits de traditions, de cuisine italienne ou simple fan de musique brésilienne, ce restaurant est fait pour vous !!

PS 1: Pour les plus pressés d’entre vous, le restaurant fait également vente à emporter
PS 2: Vous trouverez l’adresse internet du restaurant

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

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

Horaires:
Lundi au vendredi : 11:00 – 15:00, 18:00–23:30
Samedi 13:00–16:00, 18:00–23:30
Fermé dimanche

Reservations: toptable.co.uk
Les photos proviennent de la page Facebook de In Parma by Food Roots.