Goodbye to all that. Leaving Bristol

bristol-exitI like Bristol plenty, enough to live here for nearly fifteen years, but I’m not sure I like it in the way I’m supposed to. A typical Bristol enthusiast will tell you that it’s a vibrant, diverse, happening place, like a laid-back outpost of trendy London in the provinces, or a West Country Brighton. A friend overheard a Bristol University student say, ‘Bristol is like a sort of second-home London.’ Well, yah. Continue reading

First they came for the Irish

It was Finnegan's Wake (Guinness and the craic); then it was The Hill (gourmet pizza and imported lager); now it is ... this.
It was Finnegan’s Wake (Guinness and the craic); then it was The Hill (gourmet pizza and imported lager); now it is … this.

The tale of a pub

When I moved to Bristol in 2002 people still talked about Finnegan’s Wake on Cotham Hill. I would say that I’d had a drink and eaten a pizza at The Hill and Bristolians would nod and say ‘Ah, you were at Finnegan’s Wake.’ The Hill was new, you see. For years locals still called it Finnegan’s, with a sort of lazy obstinacy. It was odd, because no one had any affectionate memories of the old pub; it was a nondescript Irish theme bar, notable only for being named after Joyce’s vast unreadable novel. In fact, during my fifteen minutes’ research for this, no one I asked could recall anything about it: ‘I don’t remember, there were probably some Irish props scattered about the place and some old-fashioned signs and agricultural implements on the wall’. Continue reading

An early glass of Christmas something

'Schofield family Christmas.' A Snowball might have helped. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
‘Schofield family Christmas.’ A Snowball might have helped. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes it’s useful to have some help easing through the early parts of Christmas day. This calls for a special kind of drink, if it’s drink you want. The principles are simple enough, but they require fine balance and nice judgement. Your drink should be apt to the season, it should be mild and undemanding, and it should set you up for the rest of the day. Let’s say that you could drink it mid-morning while unwrapping presents (if you have youngish children—ha!) or jawing harmlessly with the in-laws in that dead time before the food. If it seems unhealthy to be drinking before the sun hits the yardarm, at least it’s social, healthier than everyone withdrawing into their smartphones while one person cooks. Continue reading

A cocktail for all seasons, especially this one: the Sidecar

sidecar-flappersAll things considered, this is my favourite cocktail. I discovered it by happy accident one Christmas when my father said I could pick any cocktail from his pocket bar guide and he’d mix it for me. I’d been helping out at the guest house, I think cleaning or restocking the small bar. Being very young at the time I looked for one that had the most alcohol and the least mixer without being either impossible (exotic ingredients, such as absinthe) or disgusting (vile ingredients, such as absinthe). I chose a Sidecar and was relieved to find that I liked it; I’ve been liking it ever since. Other cocktails come and go, but not this one. Continue reading